Midnight In The Desert — space junk

National Space Council Will Deliver Space-Junk Plan to Trump, VP Pence Says

Posted by K R on

National Space Council Will Deliver Space-Junk Plan to Trump, VP Pence Says

The United States is getting serious about space junk, according to Vice President Mike Pence. In a speech today (April 16), Pence announced that the National Space Council will soon send President Donald Trump new recommendations to address the growing threat of space junk circling Earth. "President Trump knows that a stable and orderly space environment is critical to the strength of our economy and resilience of our national security systems," Pence told a crowd of space and military officials here at the 34th Space Symposium. "And that's why the National Space Council has developed the first comprehensive Space Traffic...

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This Space Junk Removal Experiment Will Harpoon & Net Debris in Orbit

Posted by K R on

This Space Junk Removal Experiment Will Harpoon & Net Debris in Orbit

The first experiment designed to demonstrate active space-debris removal in orbit has just reached the International Space Station aboard SpaceX's Dragon capsule. The RemoveDebris experiment, designed by a team led by the University of Surrey in the U.K. as part of a 15.2 million euro ($18.7 million), European Union (EU)-funded project, is about the size of a washing machine and weighs 100 kilograms (220 lbs.). It carries three types of technologies for space-debris capture and active deorbiting — a harpoon, a net and a drag sail. It will also test a lidar system for optical navigation that will help future...

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Alien Satellites and Other Space Junk Could Help Us Find Extraterrestrial Intelligence

Posted by K R on

Alien Satellites and Other Space Junk Could Help Us Find Extraterrestrial Intelligence

Earth is surrounded by a giant bubble of space junk—but similar trash rings around other planets might be a clue as we go hunting for technologically advanced life beyond humans. That's according to a recent paper posted to the physics pre-print site arxiv.org. Its author, Héctor Socas-Navarro, spends most of his time at the Canary Islands Institute of Astrophysics in Spain studying the sun. But he was struck by a weird side effect of the ring of active and retired satellites circling Earth: it's a little bit opaque. And the more satellites we throw up there, the more opaque it...

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Fears of catastrophe as runaway Chinese space station hurtles toward Earth

Posted by K R on

Fears of catastrophe as runaway Chinese space station hurtles toward Earth

A Chinese space station will crash into Earth in a matter of months - and it could kill anyone who is standing beneath. The 8.5-ton Tiangong-1, or “Heavenly Palace”, satellite is now out of control and is doomed to plunge into the atmosphere, a top academic has warned. “I expect it will come down a few months from now – late 2017 or early 2018,” Jonathan McDowell, a Harvard University astrophysicist, told The Guardian. He previously warned that there was no way of telling exactly where the space station was going to plunge to Earth. “You really can’t steer these...

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Meet the Space Custodians: Debris Cleanup Plans Emerge

Posted by K R on

Meet the Space Custodians: Debris Cleanup Plans Emerge

Over the past 25 years, the amount of space junk orbiting Earth has grown exponentially, and the problem is bound to get worse: Some experts claim the feared Kessler Syndrome, an unstoppable cascade of collisions, is becoming a reality. The U.S. Space Surveillance Network currently tracks some 18,000 objects larger than 4 inches (10 centimeters), of which only 1,200 are intact, operational satellites. In addition to that, there are 750,000 so-called "flying bullets" about 0.4 inches (1 cm) in size and around 150 million fragments smaller than 1 millimeter. International guidelines recommend that operators remove spacecraft from low-Earth orbit (LEO)...

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