China suggests using lasers to eliminate space debris

China suggests using lasers to eliminate space debris

Space debris cloud that now surrounds our planet

Orbital debris is one of the major problems that space agencies face today. After 60 years of rocket launches with satellites and other details, the situation in near-earth orbit becomes critical. Due to the rapid acceleration when moving, even tiny pieces pose a serious threat to the ISS and active satellites.

Therefore, large agencies tend to take control of the situation. Until now, large magnets, nets, harpoons and lasers have been used as suggestions. Recently, China put forward the idea of ​​creating large-scale space lasers.

A team of scientists performed numerical simulations to see if an orbital station with a high-power pulsed laser could cope with orbital debris. Based on the estimates of the speed and trajectory of the junk pieces, they found that an orbital laser with the same direct ascending node (RAAN) entry as debris would be an effective solution.

The model shows that tilting and RAAN, as well as a laser station with the same inclination and RAAN, affect debris removal, since debris has the highest removal efficiency.

This is not the first time that directed energy is seen as a possible means to solve a problem. But China’s participation suggests that the country is more and more interested in the space industry. And this is also true, because China has become one of the main causes of the problem. In 2007, an anti-satellite test was carried out in the country, which resulted in more than 3,000 junk fragments. This cloud was huge and in 2013 damaged the Russian satellite.

There are those who believe that the use of lasers in space will create the conditions for the militarization of space. In 1966, a Space Treaty was signed, where countries agreed not to place nuclear weapons of mass destruction in orbit or celestial bodies.

China suggests using lasers to eliminate space debris

Chip in the window of the ISS dome, captured by astronaut Tim Pique

In the 1980s agreement signed and China. But in March 2017, US General John Heyten said that China’s attempts to create laser arrays represent an opportunity to break the treaty. On the one hand, lasers are an effective method for solving problems, but on the other hand, there is no trust between countries.

Once again, the cosmos is forced to suffer from the politics of our planet. But let's not forget that space debris threatens all countries, so contact and protection should be established.

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