The space debris capture experiment using a harpoon proved successful.

Pilot British probe RemoveDEBRISsuccessfully coped with the second part of the test systems for collecting space debris, for the first time in space conditions capturing the object using a harpoon, according to a website in a press release from the University of Surrey. Recall that during the first test, conducted in September last year, the device captured the garbage layout with the help of a fishing network, for the first time showing the real potential of using similar technologies for cleaning near-Earth space.

According to current estimates, the Earth’s orbitthere are more than 750 thousand objects larger than one centimeter, and the average speed of these objects is more than 40 000 kilometers per hour. The same estimates say that the total weight of these objects is more than 7,600 tons. Needless to say, a collision with one of them can have serious consequences for most satellites, the International Space Station, unmanned and manned spacecraft?

In recent years, scientists have developed severaldozens of options for systems that would help solve this problem. For example, Chinese physicists have suggested installing a powerful laser onboard the ISS that will "shoot down" space debris, while NASA experts suggest that it be collected using "sailing ships".

Last June, one was delivered to the IVSCsuch solutions include the RemoveDEBRIS probe, which is designed to work out technologies for cleaning the near-earth orbit from space debris. It was created by British engineers from the University of Surrey and Airbus as part of a project for which the EU allocated EUR 5.2 million.

The device, the size of a small refrigerator,consists of the RemoveDEBRIS probe itself, two metal plates that play the role of space debris models, a net, a harpoon, a sail, a camera, and navigation equipment.

RemoveDEBRIS Probe Circuit

Last year, successful tests were and a three-dimensional laser radar, designed to search and track space debris. According to Guglielmo Aletti, the mission’s scientific supervisor, the most difficult part of the tests required almost half a year of preparation. But the expectations were met.

During the last experiment, the crew of the ISStested the capture of an object in orbit using a harpoon. One of the walls of the Kubsat was used as a garbage breadboard, which was installed at a distance of 1.5 meters from RemoveDEBRIS. Last shot at her with a harpoon at a speed of 20 meters. This was enough to pierce the metal plate and grab it. The video of the experiment can be viewed below.

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"Space debris can cause the most seriousimplications for communications systems on Earth if it collides with still operating satellites. This amazing project showed that this problem can be solved using the simplest harpoon - a work tool used by mankind since time immemorial, ”quotes Chris Skidmore, Minister of Science of Great Britain, who commented on successful harpoon tests, Surrey University website.

Now the team RemoveDEBRIS is preparing for the lastphase of the experiment - the destruction of fragments of trash caught in the atmosphere of the Earth. It is going to be held in March of this year. The probe will have to release a special sail, which will brake RemoveDEBRIS and pull it into the atmosphere, along with pieces of trash caught, where they will burn.

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