Last summer, a new type of hunting debris from the International Space Station (ISS) was released. He is known as the RemoveDebris spacecraft, a technology demonstration developed by Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd and the Surrey Space Center. The purpose of this satellite is to test the performance of satellites, equipped with targeted software, garbage grid, and space garbage harpoon.
During the last few months, this spacecraft conducted a series of active debris removal (ADR) exercises. About a week ago, according to a recent statement, the RemoveDebris satellite first tested its harpoon. As you can see from the video, the satellite successfully demonstrated its system of harpoons and tested its ability to protect space debris and did not let them fly away.
The test took place on the 8th of February, and consisted of a satellite harpoon. falling into the target plate, which was mounted on the arrow at a distance of 1.5 m (4.9 m). The Harpoon (developed by Airbus Defense and Space) was launched at a speed of 20 meters per second (72 km / h, 45 mph) and punched the target and the attached cable held the device from flight to space
. According to Gulemmo Allietti, Director of the Surrey Space Center at Surrey University and chief researcher at RemoveDebri, in a press release from Surrey University:
"This is the hardest RemoveDebris experiment and the fact that it was Success is a testimony to all the participants. The RemoveDebris project provides significant evidence of what can be achieved through collaborative work – linking industry and research expertise to something really great. "
This test was the third in a series to evaluate and test the ability of RemoveDebris to deal with space debris. The first test took place in September and consisted of spacecraft that deployed their network to capture CubeSat. Designated by DebrisSat 1, this CubeSat carries an airborne balloon that is bloated to simulate a significant proportion of orbital waste.
Chris Skidmore, UK State University Minister of Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, also praised success. "Space debris can have serious consequences for our systems of communication if they are split into satellites. This inspirational project shows that British experts are responding to this potential problem by using the harpoon, a tool that people have used throughout history, "he said.
The second test, which took place in October, confirmed the tracking of a spacecraft and a range of lasers, its algorithms, and navigational vision technology. The test consisted of a spacecraft that produced the second CubeSat (DebrisSat 2), and then photographed it and its surroundings using a LiDAR flash and a color camera.
As Thomas Shabot, Vision Project Manager, Airbus System, said at the time:
"Navigational sensors and vision-based algorithms are important elements that allow you to see with subsequent capture of non-cooperative space targets, such as orbital garbage. Using the Navigational Experiment based on the RemoveDEBRIS board, a key step was taken to demonstrate the suitability of the VBN system and evaluate its performance in flight, paved the way for its use in the future of active garbage removal or on operational maintenance missions for orbits.
The spacecraft measures about 1 meter (3 feet) at the side and weighs about 100 kg (220 lb), making it the largest satellite deployed on the ISS to date. It contains experiments conducted by several European aerospace companies, and is one of several concepts that are currently being explored as a space debris remover.
According to the American Satellite Surveillance Network, there are over 7600 tons (8377.5 thousand tons of US)) of space debris in and around the orbit of the Earth. Some of these objects reach speeds of up to 48,000 km / h (30,000 mph), which makes garbage even micrometers a serious threat to orbital missions and space stations. And it only worsens.
In the coming years, it is expected that thousands of satellites will be launched in response to the growing demand for telecommunication services and global broadband Internet access. In addition, NASA and other space agencies plan to install missions beyond the LEO, which means more spent rocket stages and detached components in orbit.
For this reason, serious purification is required to keep the sky higher and the space of the lane is clear. Knowing that at least one of the proposed methods for doing so is effective, of course, is encouraging.
Additional reading: University of Surrey