Last summer, a new type of debris satellite was released from the International Space Station (ISS). Known as the RemoveDebris Spacecraft, a technology demonstrator developed by Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd and the Surrey Space Center. The purpose of this satellite is to check whether satellites equipped with targeting software, debris and harpoon network are effective in the fight against space debris.
Over the last few months, this spacecraft has been conducting a series of active waste removal (ADR) exercises. About a week ago, according to a recent statement, the RemoveDebris satellite tested his harpoon for the first time. As you can see from the video, the satellite successfully demonstrated its speargun system and verified its ability to provide space debris and prevent it from taking off.
The test was held on Friday, February 8, and consists of a satellite harpoon. striking a target plate that is mounted on an arrow at a distance of 1.5 m (4.9 ft). The hamper (developed by Airbus Defense and Space) was launched at a speed of 20 meters per second (72 km / h, 45 miles per hour) and pierced the target while the cable attached protects the device from flying into space.
As Guillermo Alietti, director of Surrey Space Center at Surrey University and the chief researcher of RemoveDebris, said in Surrey University Press Release: "This is the most demanding experiment on RemoveDebris and the fact that it is the success testimony for all participants The RemoveDebris project provides convincing evidence of what can be achieved with the power of collaboration – pooling the experience between industry and the research area to achieve something truly remarkable
This test is t the rebate in a series designed to evaluate and validate the ability of the RemoveDebris systems to cope with space rubbish.The first test was conducted in September and consisted of a spacecraft using its network to capture CubeSat.For DebrisSat 1, this CubeSat wore a board balloon that inflates to simulate a significant part of the orbital debris.
Chris Skidmore, the state minister of universities, science, research and innovation, also praised the success. "Space waste can have serious consequences for our communications systems if they break into satellites. This inspiring project shows that British experts come up with answers to this potential problem using a harpoon, a tool people have used throughout history. "
The second test, conducted in October, confirmed the tracking of spacecraft and variable lasers, its algorithms, and vision-based navigation technology. The test consisted of the spacecraft dropping a second CubeSat (DebrisSat 2) and then taking pictures of it and its surroundings using a LiDAR flash and a color camera. ) system at Airbus, said at the time:
"Vessel-based navigation sensors and algorithms are essential elements for meeting and subsequently capturing non-cooperative space targets such as orbital debris. Through a vision based navigation experiment that took place on the RemoveDEBRIS, a key step was taken to demonstrate the suitability of the VBN system and assess its in-flight performance.
The spacecraft measures approximately 1 meter (3 feet) on one side and weighs around 100 kg (220 lbs), making it the largest satellite ever to be found in the ISS. It contains experiments provided by many European space companies and is one of several concepts that are currently being studied as a means of mitigating space waste.
According to the US Space Observation Network, there are more than 7,600 metric tons (8,377.5 tons) of space rubbish in and around Earth's orbit. Some of these sites reach a speed of up to 48,000 km / h, making even micrometric waste a serious threat to orbital missions and space stations. And it will only get worse.
In the coming years, thousands of satellites are expected to be launched in response to the growing demand for telecommunication services and broadband internet access worldwide. In addition, NASA and other space agencies plan to build missions outside of LEO, meaning more spent missiles and different components will be ejected in orbit.
For this reason, serious cleaning is needed to keep the sky above and spacebars. Knowing that at least one of the proposed methods is effective is certainly encouraging.