<img src = "data: image / gif; base64, R0lGODlhAQABAIAAAAAAAP /// yH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAIBRAA7" class = "lazy lazy-hidden" data-lazy-type = "iframe" ALT = "" />
A British satellite released by the International Space Station last year successfully demonstrates a harpoon that can be used in future space-cleaning missions, officials said.
The hamper is fired from the RemoveDebris spacecraft. , hit a target plate erected by the satellite on a 4,9-foot (1,5-meter) boom. The experiment is one of the major missions of the $ 17 million ($ 15.2 million) RemoveDebris mission, conceived as a technology test engineers hope to allow future satellites to arrange busy orbital motion bands by collecting dead satellites and missiles and manage them.
In a dramatic video released by Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd., the spear is seen as a cathegory of the RemoveDebris spacecraft at a speed of about 45 mph ̵
Working from controllers in SSTL University City in Guildford, England, the RemoveDebris Satellite is shaped like a cube and measures about 1 meter on each side. But he outweighs his weight with a mission that has already successfully tested a network that can capture space waste, and has completed laser and camera system trials to identify and navigate objects such as space garbage in orbit
Harpoon is developed by Airbus Defense and Space in Stevenage, England.
"The successful demonstration of harpoon technology in space is a significant step towards solving the growing problem with space waste," said Chris Burgess, chief engineer at Harpoon Airbus Defense
The RemoveDebris satellite launched on SpaceX Dragon Spacecraft in April 2018. After delivery to the space station, the satellite was assembled by an astronaut assistant, then moved outside the station's Japanese air gate, to be launched in June. CubeSat, which was networked during an experiment in September, then deployed a second CubeSat in October for a tracking experiment using a color camera and a laser rangefinder to determine the location, speed and target orientation. The experiment may not be as attractive as its predecessor, but it can be just as consistent, "said Aglietti in a statement in October announcing the test of the navigation system. "What we have proven with this successful test is that the vision-based navigation system is capable of providing accurate information about a piece of debris, its behavior and travel – critical information for a mission to remove active waste."
Engineers expect that the speargun experiment will create more hazards due to the speed and dynamics of the spear, as it is fired from the RemoveDebris satellite and breaks its target. On a real companion, the speargun will have to be directed away from the fuel tanks to avoid the risk of uncontrolled leaks or explosions. "It may be a bit more risky because you have to hit your remains in a suitable place to be captured by the harpoon," said Aglietti in an interview before the launch of RemoveDebris. "It is clear that you have to avoid all fuel tanks … This will cause some side effects." img src = "data: image / gif; base64, R0lGODlhAQABAIAAAAAAAP /// yH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAIBRAA7" class = "lazy-lazy-hidden" data-lazy-src = " >
"We have spearguns, we have grids," said Jason Forshaw, former SSTL project manager at TEDx in 2017. "All of these look like simple concepts and they are. They have been used for thousands of years underwater to catch things like ocean creatures, and actually seeing them into space, and seeing if these concepts work for the first time – no one has ever used a net or a harpoon for these purposes in space before
The final experiment in the RemoveDebris mission is scheduled for March when the satellite will open an expanding canvas to act as an air brake or spoiler generating resistance from collisions with air molecules in the diluted external atmosphere From an altitude of about 250 miles the dredge will return the RemoveDebris satellite back to the thicker layers of the atmosphere where it will burn
The braking mechanism will allow the RemoveDebris to re-enter the atmosphere in about eight weeks of dragging, and not about two and a half years, that will be needed to eliminate the orbit of course.
CubeSats, launched by RemoveDebris last year for network and navigation research, was also expected naturally – enter the atmosphere within months.
"All the elements of the mission must be de-ordered very quickly," said Aglietti. "It is clear that for a mission like ours, we should not contribute further to the problem of space waste. We want to make sure that all the pieces we put there are going down pretty quickly. "
The RemoveDebris mission was partly funded by the European Commission. The rest of the project was paid by the 10 companies involved in the demonstration, including SSTL, Airbus Defense and Space and ArianeGroup. "Space debris can have serious consequences for our communications systems if they break down satellites," said Chris Skidmore, the British Minister of Science, in a statement. "This inspiring project shows that British experts are finding answers to this potential problem with the use of a harpoon, a tool people have used throughout history."
Experts currently estimate more than 8,000 tonnes of junk and debris circling the Earth . equivalent to the Eiffel Tower. Obsolete satellites who have spent rocket stages and other pieces of junk could collide with other spacecraft such as the space station, jeopardizing astronauts and property, and risking the creation of more debris. can take place at a relatively low price, within the budgets of commercial service providers and limited-budget governments.
"After the entire campaign is over and the RemoveDebris drummer is crawling, it would be great if companies offer this as a service, and there will be larger missions when they will go and capture a real piece of debris using some of the technology which we demonstrated, "Aggieti said in an interview last year. 
Follow Steven Clark on Twitter: @ StephenClark1 .