In space, trash can't go to the curb

March 16, 2007

Taking out the trash is no simple chore on the International Space Station, where some junk is carefully hurled into the Earth's atmosphere to burn.

"It's really only a measure of last resort," Nicholas Johnson, head of NASA's orbital debris program told USA Today of the space trash technique. "We don't want to create debris even if it's short-lived, unless it's overwhelmingly necessary."

USA Today reported that in April, astronaut James Reilly is scheduled to toss five sun protection covers into space during a spacewalk. Later this year, astronaut Clay Anderson is scheduled to throw a storage tank into space, the newspaper reported.

Such disposal takes careful planning and good aim so the trash doesn't hit the space station or a visiting shuttle. The debris should burn within weeks or months.

Tossing trash into space is "a lot of fun," astronaut William McArthur told USA Today. He threw out an electric-charge sensor in 2005.

"Maybe it's like the first time you ever parallel-park a car," he told the newspaper. "Until you've actually done a physical task, there are doubts."

Copyright 2007 by United Press International

Explore further: A giant Pac-Man to gobble up space debris

Related Stories

A giant Pac-Man to gobble up space debris

July 6, 2015

The Clean Space One Project has passed a milestone. The space cleanup satellite will deploy a conical net to capture the small SwissCube satellite before destroying it in the atmosphere. It's one of the solutions being tested ...

Using Minecraft to unboggle the robot mind

June 8, 2015

Researchers from Brown University are developing a new algorithm to help robots better plan their actions in complex environments. It's designed to help robots be more useful in the real world, but it's being developed with ...

Recommended for you

Born-again planetary nebula

July 28, 2015

Beneath the vivid hues of this eye-shaped cloud, named Abell 78, a tale of stellar life and death is unfolding. At the centre of the nebula, a dying star – not unlike our Sun – which shed its outer layers on its way to ...

'Bathtub rings' suggest Titan's dynamic seas

July 28, 2015

Saturn's moon, Titan, is the only object in the Solar System other than Earth known to have liquid on its surface. While most of the lakes are found around the poles, the dry regions near the equator contain signs of evaporated ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.