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Mission to clean up space junk with magnets set for launch

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These remains consist of parts of ancient satellites, as well as satellites and rockets of missing rockets. Waste poses risks to the International Space Station and threatens the things we take for granted on Earth: weather forecasting, GPS and telecommunications. It is a problem that gets worse with more and more satellites are launched each year for companies like Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

The demonstration mission to test the new technology developed by the Astroscale company to clean up space debris will be launched in the early hours of Saturday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

A Soyuz 2 rocket will launch a 175-kilogram spacecraft with a satellite connected to space. The 17-kilogram spacecraft and satellite, the waste to be cleaned, will be separated and then perform a game of cats and mice with a large turnout over the coming months.

Astroscale will test the spacecraft’s ability to snatch a satellite and drop it into the Earth’s atmosphere, where it will burn. It will do so in a series of different maneuvers, with the mission scheduled to end in September or October of this year.

As part of the mission, the company will test whether the spacecraft can catch and dock with the satellite as it falls through space at up to 17,500 miles per hour, several times faster than the speed of a bullet.

The tests are based on a magnetic docking plate to attach to the satellite. Astroscale said it expects all new satellites to be launched to finally have this docking plate, which will allow them to be safely removed at the end of their useful life. In addition, Astroscale said it had already signed an agreement OneWeb satellite internet business.

“Now is the time to take the threat of waste seriously by committing to waste disposal programs and preparing satellites for future disposal at the end of their lives,” said John Auburn, CEO of Astroscale UK and commercial director of the group.

“Preventing catastrophic collisions will help protect the space ecosystem and ensure that all orbits can continue to thrive sustainably for future generations.”

Astroscale is headquartered in Japan, but the mission is being controlled from the United Kingdom.

The mission will last about six months.

Nets, harpoons and robotic weapons

The technology being tested in this mission aims to remove satellites yet to be launched and does not address the problem of the debris that already exists in space. However, the company works with JAXA, Japan’s aerospace exploration agency. in his first waste disposal project.

Other space agencies, institutions and companies are also working on technology to remove space debris.

A dead Soviet satellite and an old rocket got lost in space
ClearSpace 1, the file European Space Agency mission to remove space debris from orbit, is expected to be launched in 2025. This mission will use four robotic arms to capture debris.
A successful 2018 demonstration mission deployed a network to catch space junk, the first successful demonstration of space cleaning technology. The RemoveDebris experiment is led by a consortium of companies and researchers led by the Surrey Space Center in the United Kingdom and includes Airbus, Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd., owned by Airbus, and the French group Ariane Group. He has done the same i tried a method with a harpoon.
There are at least 26,000 pieces of space orbiting the Earth that are the size of a ball of soft or larger and could destroy a satellite on impact; more than 500,000 the size of a marble large enough to cause damage to spacecraft or satellites; and more than 100 million pieces of rubble the size of a grain of salt that could pierce a space suit, according to NASA January Report.

In fact, the report said, the pieces of space junk are there the most dangerous for spacecraft and satellites are usually the smallest because they are too small to detect them and operators are unable to maneuver to avoid them.

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