How a startup plans to clean up space

Since 2012, engineers at EPFL's Space Center have been hard at work on a new junk-clearing satellite to capture debris orbiting the earth. The team has now shifted up a gear, founding a company called ClearSpace to pick up ...

Traveling into space – safely, quickly and cost-effectively

Low Earth orbit increasingly resembles an overcrowded junkyard. Disused satellites, burned-out rocket stages and thousands of pieces of debris produced by collisions – all these things pose a threat to infrastructure in ...

China has a plan to clean up space junk with lasers

Orbital debris (aka. space junk) is one of the greatest problems facing space agencies today. After 60 years of sending rockets, boosters and satellites into space, the situation in the low Earth orbit (LEO) has become rather ...

InflateSail CubeSat comes to a successful and fiery end

InflateSail, a CubeSat with a lightweight sail mounted on an inflatable mast, was designed, built and tested at the Surrey Space Centre (SSC) in the University of Surrey on behalf of the Von Karman Institute in Belgium.

ESA boss urges action on 'ticking timebombs' in Earth orbit

A European Space Agency director urged nations Tuesday to unlock concealed data on the whereabouts of hundreds of thousands of pieces of space junk, or "ticking time bombs" threatening spacecraft in Earth orbit.

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Space debris

Space debris or orbital debris, also called space junk and space waste, are the objects in orbit around Earth created by humans, and that no longer serve any useful purpose. They consist of everything from entire spent rocket stages and defunct satellites to explosion fragments, paint flakes, dust, and slag from solid rocket motors, coolant released by RORSAT nuclear powered satellites, deliberate insertion of small needles, and other small particles. Clouds of very small particles may cause erosive damage, like sandblasting. Space "junk" has become a growing concern in recent years, since collisions at orbital velocities can be highly damaging to functional satellites and can also produce even more space debris in the process. This is called the Kessler Syndrome. Some spacecraft, like the International Space Station, are now armored to mitigate damage from this hazard. Astronauts on space-walks are also vulnerable.

The first major space debris collision was on February 10, 2009 at 16:56 UTC. The deactivated Kosmos-2251 and an operational Iridium 33 collided 789 kilometres (490 mi) over northern Siberia. The relative speed of impact was about 11.7 kilometres per second (7.3 mi/s), or approximately 42,120 kilometres per hour (26,170 mph). Both satellites were destroyed. The collision scattered considerable debris, which poses an elevated risk to spacecraft.

This text uses material from Wikipedia, licensed under CC BY-SA