This summer, a satellite was launched from the ISS to remove space debris. It should help researchers to find new methods of cleaning the orbit from broken machines and debris. The RemoveDebris experimental mission (getting rid of debris) in September successfully launched a network to catch a dead satellite in space. Next year they plan to use a harpoon.
Gripping the mechanical wreckage of a harpoon seems like a cool idea. However, some experts believe that for such a huge amount of garbage is not the best offer. We have to constantly use a harpoon for every detail. Is this a big contribution to solving a problem?
Many are disappointed that governments cannot find a solution to the problem of space debris, especially in near-earth orbit. DARPA (Department of Promising Research Projects of the US Department of Defense) has been studying this issue for many years. Management officials say that for the time being, the long-term answer is self-control. The industry produces a thousand satellites, so it is important to realize that all of them will fail one day and increase the problem. Now space agencies are trying to figure out how to better track debris as part of a larger scale space traffic management effort. Complicating all the fact that many companies are beginning to create their own satellite constellations, so you need to come up with a plan for the disposal of such spacecraft. That is, it is best for manufacturers to take care of the problem themselves.
The tested satellite to capture garbage created 5 years. This is a difficult project, because there are too many hypothetical scenarios when things don’t go as planned. The cost of the project is $ 20 million. The RemoveDebris mission includes 4 experiments. In September, a network was deployed to capture the target satellite. Next you need to check the navigation system that tracks objects in 2D and 3D. Next year should check the harpoon, shooting at a speed of 20 m / s.
However, experts understand that this system is still not sufficiently effective. DARPA representatives say that one day a critical moment will come when we have to urgently get rid of garbage, otherwise we simply will not be able to launch rockets from the Earth. And then the space research era will end for us.