RemoveDEBRIS spacecraft sent toThe ISS using the SpaceX launch vehicle this summer was able to capture an improvised piece of space debris orbiting the planet with a network, demonstrating for the first time the real potential of this technology for cleaning up near-Earth space.
The experimental phase of the mission has begun.On September 16, when a satellite weighing 100 kilograms fired a network 5 meters wide into a previously released small object. If the network were used to capture true space debris, the satellite would tow it to a lower orbit, and then the debris would burn out as it entered the atmosphere.
Video capture of the released object network:
Professor Guglielmo Aletti, scientific director of the RemoveDebris experiment, shared the joy of a successful experiment:
“We are absolutely delighted with the resultsnetwork capture technology. It may seem like a simple idea; the complexity of using a network in space to capture part of the wreckage required many years of planning, development and coordination between the Surrey University space center, Airbus and our partners, but much more work needs to be done. This is a very exciting time for all of us. ”
"To create network capture technologywe spent 6 years of space debris testing in parabolic flights, in special vertical stands, as well as in thermal vacuum chambers. Our small team of engineers and technicians did an amazing job, taking us one step closer to clearing a low near-earth orbit, ”adds Ingo Retat, project manager for Airbus.
In the future, the RemoveDebris team planstest other developments: a computer vision system based on optical cameras, lidar technology to track potential targets, technology to capture large targets with a harpoon, as well as a space sail through which debris can be towed to Earth's atmosphere where it will burn in the fall.
American organization Space SurveillanceThe Network tracks approximately 40,000 different objects in orbit and estimates that in near-earth space there are 7,600 tons of space debris moving at a speed of 50 thousand kilometers an hour. According to other organizations, the Earth’s orbit can contain up to half a million wreckage of space debris, a danger to satellites and other spacecraft.
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