The amount of stuff circling the earth, much of it junk, is staggering and would be funny if it weren’t so serious.
IndustryTap has written “Time to Clean Up Thousands of Dead Satellites Orbiting Earth” about the dangers that more than 3,000 tons of space junk poses to the International Space Station and billions of dollars of advanced satellites doing critical work on behalf of humanity.
And huge new satellite constellations are now being planned, like Richard Branson’s and Elon Musk’s, as well as a multitude of NASA satellites seen as critical to collecting data on global warming, such as the Earth Observing Satellite Fleet among them.
The following image from NASA shows the damage that can be done by space junk, possibly destroying or hampering critical equipment.
A Plan to Get Rid of Space Junk
New advanced robotic satellites are now being designed and developed to help capture, reuse or destroy satellites or parts of satellites that have reached the end of their useful life. DARPA’s Phoenix Robotic Satellite Recovery & Redeployment Program is expected to capitalize on the immense advancements in technology and software, meeting up with satellites and performing maintenance, salvaging reusable parts and destroying the junk.
Using Laser Canons to Zap Space Junk
According to NASA, a plan has been studied and may still be viable to use a laser cannon that would shoot debris, propelling it out of orbit and into the Earth’s atmosphere where it would be destroyed by the heat of re-entry. The possibility also exists for nuclear-powered laser guns and others.
The technology would include a wide-field telescope and a powerful laser cannon. According to NASA’s Creon Levit, it is growing increasingly important that steps be taken to clean up space junk before an expensive and potentially deadly accident happens.
At the same time, at NASA’s Hypervelocity Impact Technology Facility in Texas, new types of materials are being tested to protect spaceships from space junk.