Harpoon

A lot has been written about the problem of space debris. Over 20,000 objects on the Earth’s orbit, measuring 10 cm or more in size, are capable of causing irreparable damage to existing spacecraft.

A group of British engineers from Airbus is developing an original method of removing space debris using a special harpoon about a meter in length. He will be fastened with a steel cable to the space “scavenger”. Choosing a goal, he uses a compressed air to shoot a harpoon, punching its skin, “like a butter knife.” There it opens, like the tip of an arrow or a fishing hook.

Then, the “extraction” is attracted to the scavenger satellite, after which it delivers it to the boundary of the atmosphere and drops it down where the garbage will burn in dense layers.

Space harpoon

Currently, the harpoon is being tested in the laboratory. His reduced version will be sent in April to space with the mission of Remove Debris. Another group will be engaged in the preparation of “experimental” debris, which Remove Debris will try to clean with a net-trap or harpoon.

At the end of the mission, the harpoon will return to Earth, where it is carefully examined and additionally tested to improve efficiency.

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