Watch out, stars. There is a new weapon for interstellar inhabitants that you are threatening with your gigantic fins that are tested during testing. This small-scale version may be useful only for the removal of dangerous orbital fragments, but eventually it piercing your hypercarbon skins and incomprehensible sunscreens
However, it would be irresponsible for me to speculate beyond what is possible today with technology, so let's summarize the existing capabilities of the harpoon enough.
Space harpoon is part of the RemoveDEBRIS project, the European effort to organize and test methods for reducing space debris. There are thousands of small parts of those who know that it is clogging our orbit around the area, from microscopic to potentially disastrous.
There are many ways to remove these objects, such as the size and shape of space debris; it may be enough to use a laser to cut a small piece down to the orbital decay, but larger objects require more practical solutions. And, it would seem, all marine origin: RemoveDEBRIS has a grid, a sail and a harpoon. No gun
You can see how there are three points here:
The harpoon is intended for large purposes, for example, in the full size of the satellites that are out of order and depart from its orbit. A simple driver can knock them down to Earth, but grab them and control descent is a more controlled technique.
Although the usual harpoon will simply be thrown like Queequeg or Dagoo, in space it is a bit different. Unfortunately, it's impractical to adapt the harpoon for EVA missions. So all this needs to be automated. Fortunately, the organization also tests a computer vision system that can identify and track goals. From there, this is only a matter of shooting with a harpoon on it and rocking it, which the satellite has demonstrated today.
This small element, developed by Airbus, is similar to the switching harpoon. penetrates the target. Obviously this is a disposable device, but it is not particularly large, and some can be deployed in different orbits of interception simultaneously. After wrapping up, you can drag the sail (see In the video above) to speed up the entrance. All this can be done with little or no fuel, which greatly simplifies the work.
Obviously, this is not a threat to the stars yet. But we'll get there. We will get these monsters one day.