Saturday, April 18, 2009

Innovative Solution to Reducing Space Garbage - Sails

NewScientist posts an particularly interesting way to reduce the amount of junk hardware that is left in orbit after a launch.

The plan, as purposed by NewScientist is to reduce:
  • ...the risk to spacecraft from a collision with space debris by equipping launchers with a gossamer-thin "sail". The idea is to deploy the sail after the rocket has released its payload to amplify the drag of the last vestiges of the atmosphere, and so force the rocket out of orbit.
  • engineers at the European aerospace firm EADS Astrium are devising ways to build a sail that would quickly remove a spent rocket from orbit.
As it stands right now, spent booster stages and associated junk remain in orbit upwards of 100 years. The areo-breaking sail system looks to reduce this time by three quarters or 25 years.

< Complete NewScientist article >

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