Friday, February 17, 2012

Swiss Plan to Launch a “Janitor Satellite”

Like a "Roomba" for space! Well maybe not quite but damn close. Swiss scientists have announced (according to NY Daily News) that they plan on launching what they are calling a “janitor satellite” to clean up space junk.

The $11-million satellite called "CleanSpace One" is one type of a family of proposed robot satellites first of which are planned to launch within three to five years. CleanSpace One's first tasks are to capture two Swiss owned satellites which were launched in 2009 and 2010, respectively.

As many of you know, this is a bit of a pet peeve for me. NASA alone tracks hundreds of thousand pieces of space junk large enough to damage or destroy other spacecraft, with upwards of several million pieces capable of significant damage to being lethal to EVAing astronauts.

The biggest problem to capturing space junk sounds like it should be the simplest, getting close enough to effect a capture. As any space jockey knows, translations in space are costly because all the fuel that the maneuvering engines use has to be transported from deep in Earth's gravity well, making it extremely costly. However new ultra-compact motors are first on the Swiss' drawing board. Next as we have seen time and time again, just getting a good solid grip on hardware in space is difficult at best. The Swiss are looking into revolutionary new effectors that would grab and securely hold it for disposal. And ultimately the satellite must be able to translate the captured hardware and itself back into the Earth's atmosphere where it will safely burn up.


Anonymous said...

Great idea....kinda funny a british sci fi series called UFO addressed this problem in the 70's

Beam Me Up said...

Didn't have much access to British SF back then. It wasn't until the 80s that I got a look at the likes of Dr. Who and that ilk. More details on the program Anon?
Can't find it on Hulu

Anonymous said...

It was a Gerry Anderson production...called UFO. Ed Bishop played a lead in it

Beam Me Up said...

Thanks anon
did find a wiki on it!

sounds something like V

The wiki is really informative.

Anonymous said...

The dvds for the series is on Amazon. I bought the set.

Beam Me Up said...

Thanks for the info Anon

BobW said...

Anybody remember the spaceship that transformed into a maid with vacuum in Spaceballs? suck, suck, suck