Space debris: can it be considered as a useful resource?

Company SpaceX has just carried out the first and successful launch of its ultra-heavy Falcon Heavy. As the first “payload”, the carrier was sent to space by the electric roadster Tesla donated by Ilon Mask himself, and as the first passenger – a mannequin named Starman, which, along with the car, is now flying towards the Martian orbit.

Undoubtedly, the event is historical. But not everyone was pleased. If you leave those who believe that this very launch of the Mask just decided to show off before the company’s investors, there are also those who believe that with this launch Mask has replenished an already growing dump of space debris circling around the Earth and around the Red Planet . And now, more than ever, special attention is needed to this problem.

At the moment, there are more than 500,000 pieces of space debris in the Earth’s orbit. The most different. Most of it is part of the satellites, as well as missiles that mankind has launched for more than 60 years. Approximately 20,000 units of this garbage are visible. These are objects measuring 10 centimeters and larger, consonant with Stuart Gray, a teacher in mechanical and aerospace engineering from the Scottish University of Strathclyde.

“Among the visible objects, more than half are the result of collisions of satellites. About a quarter are parts of spacecraft (1,500 of which are still functional), and the remainder is the remains of rockets and other debris left from space launches, “Gray told Futurism portal.

In reality, the picture of space debris looks even more depressing.

“If we talk about the mass of all these objects, it turns out that there are about 8,000 metric tons of man-made materials on Earth’s orbit,” Gray added.

Processing program

On the orbit accumulated so much debris that it threatens future space missions. And what if we consider space debris from a different angle? In the end, most of it consists of very expensive materials, from which rockets and satellites were made. Can space debris be considered as a potential resource for recycling and subsequent use?

“The objects are made of very specific materials, very expensive in production, and therefore it would be logical to consider the possibility of their re-use. The question is, how can we collect these “resources”? “- commented Gray.

The problem is that these objects are not just hanging in orbit, they are moving at a very high speed, about 7 kilometers per second. Of course, this seriously complicates the task of capturing them. It is not advisable to build spacecraft capable of easily catching up such high-speed space debris without problems. Ovchinka, as they say, will not be worth the candle.

But this does not mean that we should just forget about the garbage and leave it where it is. There are already several projects aimed at clearing our orbit.

“The catching mechanisms, which are currently being developed, are based on very simple methods that were used by our ancestors when catching wild animals. It’s about harpoons and nets, “Gray explains.

“Of course, it is required to test these mechanisms in orbit, but several missions are already planned for the near future. For example, one such mission is the e.Deorbit of the European Space Agency. “

Scientists and engineers of the innovative concepts program (NIAC) of the US space agency NASA offer something similar: to use a high-tech spacecraft thinner than a human hair that will capture and hold space debris as a network. Others propose to destroy space debris by lasers. But all these concepts, as noted by Gray, are still available only on paper.

Fortunately, we still have time. Space debris located in a higher near-earth orbit will stay there for some time.

“While objects in low Earth orbit will descend from it for several months or years, objects in higher orbits, for example, the same global navigation satellites located at medium altitude, as well as satellites in the geostationary orbit , in which case they will be there for hundreds or even thousands of years, “explains Gray.

Company SpaceX has just carried out the first and successful launch of its ultra-heavy Falcon Heavy. As the first “payload”, the carrier was sent to space by the electric roadster Tesla donated by Ilon Mask himself, and as the first passenger – a mannequin named Starman, which, along with the car, is now flying towards the Martian orbit.

Undoubtedly, the event is historical. But not everyone was pleased. If you leave those who believe that this very launch of the Mask just decided to show off before the company’s investors, there are also those who believe that with this launch Mask has replenished an already growing dump of space debris circling around the Earth and around the Red Planet . And now, more than ever, special attention is needed to this problem.

At the moment, there are more than 500,000 pieces of space debris in the Earth’s orbit. The most different. Most of it is part of the satellites, as well as missiles that mankind has launched for more than 60 years. Approximately 20,000 units of this garbage are visible. These are objects measuring 10 centimeters and larger, consonant with Stuart Gray, a teacher in mechanical and aerospace engineering from the Scottish University of Strathclyde.

“Among the visible objects, more than half are the result of collisions of satellites. About a quarter are parts of spacecraft (1,500 of which are still functional), and the remainder is the remains of rockets and other debris left from space launches, “Gray told Futurism portal.

In reality, the picture of space debris looks even more depressing.

“If we talk about the mass of all these objects, it turns out that there are about 8,000 metric tons of man-made materials on Earth’s orbit,” Gray added.

Processing program

On the orbit accumulated so much debris that it threatens future space missions. And what if we consider space debris from a different angle? In the end, most of it consists of very expensive materials, from which rockets and satellites were made. Can space debris be considered as a potential resource for recycling and subsequent use?

“The objects are made of very specific materials, very expensive in production, and therefore it would be logical to consider the possibility of their re-use. The question is, how can we collect these “resources”? “- commented Gray.

The problem is that these objects are not just hanging in orbit, they are moving at a very high speed, about 7 kilometers per second. Of course, this seriously complicates the task of capturing them. It is not advisable to build spacecraft capable of easily catching up such high-speed space debris without problems. Ovchinka, as they say, will not be worth the candle.

But this does not mean that we should just forget about the garbage and leave it where it is. There are already several projects aimed at clearing our orbit.

“The catching mechanisms, which are currently being developed, are based on very simple methods that were used by our ancestors when catching wild animals. It’s about harpoons and nets, “Gray explains.

“Of course, it is required to test these mechanisms in orbit, but several missions are already planned for the near future. For example, one such mission is the e.Deorbit of the European Space Agency. “

Scientists and engineers of the innovative concepts program (NIAC) of the US space agency NASA offer something similar: to use a high-tech spacecraft thinner than a human hair that will capture and hold space debris as a network. Others propose to destroy space debris by lasers. But all these concepts, as noted by Gray, are still available only on paper.

Fortunately, we still have time. Space debris located in a higher near-earth orbit will stay there for some time.

“While objects in low Earth orbit will descend from it for several months or years, objects in higher orbits, for example, the same global navigation satellites located at medium altitude, as well as satellites in the geostationary orbit , in which case they will be there for hundreds or even thousands of years, “explains Gray.

The irony is that we continue and will continue to contribute to the replenishment of the space dump, although we ourselves think how to get rid of it. Whether or not there is a way to turn space debris into useful resources for future use, it is necessary to find a solution to get rid of the problem. And it’s better before, and then later it may be too late.

The irony is that we continue and will continue to contribute to the replenishment of the space dump, although we ourselves think how to get rid of it. Whether or not there is a way to turn space debris into useful resources for future use, it is necessary to find a solution to get rid of the problem. And it’s better before, and then later it may be too late.

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