Space Junk Cleanup - Innovation & Responsibility

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EarthlingX

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Re: Idea for removing space debris

If you could attach a cable to the rotational center, or maybe mass center of the bigger rotating junk, and then pull it, it would probably dampen rotation of the junk. Then just pull it closer, use robotic arms and free flying robotic helpers to stow it in some net, and look for another.
Cable could be attached by shooting it, using robotic head at the end of the cable, or something else.
Just attaching a cable might stabilize junk, if cable is long enough.

Ship could also have robotic grabbers attached to momentum wheels, with separate engines to get rotation, that would help in absorbing rotation from the target junk.

Junkyard forms as a bigger net, with pieces welded together, if needed.
If there are robotic corners of the net, with their own, coordinated station keeping, they could be added as required.

I would expect some kind of, at least basic, junk processing like sorting, cutting, and storing. Tanks for fueling at least own operations and storing residual propellant if any, would probably be needed.
There could also be a refurbishing shop, for changing modules in robotic helpers, like engines, tanks, plating, arms, ..
Bigger refurbishing shop could also do maintenance on people carrying ships, perhaps later evolve in a shipyard.
Modularity of equipment, that would allow a lot of interchanging, would be a great bonus.

I would expect it to be out of atmospheric drag, inside of earths magnetic field, and it could use a lot of things for attitude control.

I think, that the first target should be junk, that is most dangerous for current human space flight, then the most common and most concentrated, then the rest.
 
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Space_Invaders

Guest
Light-based orbital cleaning?

Has anybody thought of using laser-bearing satellites to push space debris into the atmosphere so that they burn up?

The idea would be to place a few satellites on a very high orbit (to prevent them from being hit by the space debris they're trying to clean up) with big solar panels and a powerful laser. The satellite would charge up its laser with solar power and then fire it downwards against big chunks of space debris or clouds of smaller particles.

If powerful enough, the beam of light could slowly push these debris downwards, where atmospheric drag would be more significant. Depending on the material of the debris, the laser could even vaporise part of them, and thus generate more downward thrust.

Of course, this would have to be supplemented by a careful approach to this problem (i.e., not blowing up satellites with missiles for fun).

Is this even remotely feasible?
 
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Booban

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Re: Light-based orbital cleaning?

I would guess so, the military is working on such things for here on earth.

But there are so many objects, and solar panels won't be charging up any lasers so you won't make much of a dent in reducing the debris.

I had an idea for a large satellite with silly putty around it and to just maneuver it in the way of all the debris :D

But I think all the debris is slowly falling anyways so given enough time will burn up eventually. Anyone know the time frame? Its not like hundreds of years is it?
 
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SpaceForAReason

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Re: Light-based orbital cleaning?

The best thing to do is to determine what is salvagable first. Some of that stuff is still worth something as salvage or just needs some repairs to return them to working condition. All of that stuff could be towed to a centralized location for future use.

Anything that cannot be salvaged would be candidates for de-orbit if that is not too expensive. Otherwise it should just be towed to an orbital junk-yard location.

Eventually someone is going to make a load of money on this stuff by charging the companies and governments a fee for cleanup or restoration of these satellites. If we could get a commercial space station in the right location, staff it with the right people, and build a fleet of inexpensive tugs it may be possible to actually make some money doing that.

Other that something like that, I do not see anyone being charitable enough to care what is in orbit enough to clean it up.
 
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bdewoody

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Re: Light-based orbital cleaning?

How about a big wad of aerogel launched in a retrograde orbit which would absorb all of the tiny pieces of space junk in its path until it got heavy enough to deorbit and burn up in the atmosphere.
 
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EarthlingX

Guest
Re: Light-based orbital cleaning?

bdewoody":jov4du56 said:
How about a big wad of aerogel launched in a retrograde orbit which would absorb all of the tiny pieces of space junk in its path until it got heavy enough to deorbit and burn up in the atmosphere.
You can't control it, anything in it's path is in danger, and it drops on someone's head, you don't know where.
Mass in the orbit is worth at least 4k$/kg, if you use Russian launchers(less ?), and you can use that junk mass at least for radiation shielding, if nothing else.

There's a couple of problems with big lasers in the orbit:
- questionable effect on the debris;
- power, they need a lot;
- politics, no weapons in space.
 
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Space_Invaders

Guest
Re: Light-based orbital cleaning?

EarthlingX":1r2kapb3 said:
bdewoody":1r2kapb3 said:
How about a big wad of aerogel launched in a retrograde orbit which would absorb all of the tiny pieces of space junk in its path until it got heavy enough to deorbit and burn up in the atmosphere.
You can't control it, anything in it's path is in danger, and it drops on someone's head, you don't know where.
Mass in the orbit is worth at least 4k$/kg, if you use Russian launchers(less ?), and you can use that junk mass at least for radiation shielding, if nothing else.

There's a couple of problems with big lasers in the orbit:
- questionable effect on the debris;
- power, they need a lot;
- politics, no weapons in space.
This kind of laser wouldn't be a weapon. After all, we're shooting a laser against the Moon every now or then, aren't we? But I guess power would be the limiting factor. I don't know for how long a satellite would have to charge its batteries to be able to fire a laser.
 
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papabear9227

Guest
Re: Light-based orbital cleaning?

How about an electro-magnet on a tow cable powered by a bank of solar panels? It would draw the junk to it and it could be in a stationary orbit or not. It could even be towed to the moon and be recycled there to build new ships. It is already in space, why pay to haul new materials up there?
 
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ihwip

Guest
Re: Idea for removing space debris

Is there any merit in the idea of ionizing all these particles so that they clump together? Kinda like how the ionizer of my air purifier works? ;)

I was thinking that hauling in all the large pieces to the ISS would be lucrative. It seems the biggest problem is with all the tiny particles.
 
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vattas

Guest
Re: Idea for removing space debris

vattas":3b60b3do said:
What about huge magnetic buble - like these, proposed for protecting interplanetary manned spacecraft from radiation?
Not effective against bigger objects, but paint fleck, fuel droplet trajectories should be affected. All such items have some charge...
Just a wild late night idea, not backed by any kind of research... ;)
Nobody commented on my idea expressed earlier in this thread :( I wander what drawbacks are of this approach? As I understand some particles, instead of being slowed down, might end up in higher orbits.
 
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ihwip

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Re: Idea for removing space debris

Would a shotgun work? If we fired a scattering of small particles downward at LEO we could guarantee a swift descent due to the velocity and as they collided with other smaller particles they would help slow them down.
 
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EarthlingX

Guest
Re: Idea for removing space debris

vattas":3iiper1l said:
vattas":3iiper1l said:
What about huge magnetic buble - like these, proposed for protecting interplanetary manned spacecraft from radiation?
Not effective against bigger objects, but paint fleck, fuel droplet trajectories should be affected. All such items have some charge...
Just a wild late night idea, not backed by any kind of research... ;)
Nobody commented on my idea expressed earlier in this thread :( I wander what drawbacks are of this approach? As I understand some particles, instead of being slowed down, might end up in higher orbits.
My guess is, it might be interesting idea, at least for tiny parts, which are probably ionized with solar radiation. As much as i checked, forces of solar wind, which might be or not related, on the magnetic bubble are in the range of couple of Newtons, for a bubble with size of couple of km. I wonder if that would be enough for diverting junk debris, but it probably depends on relative energy of the pieces.
Local info:
Superconducting magnetic TPS
Cloaking tech for cosmic radiation protection
 
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DarkenedOne

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Lasers best hope against asteriods + debris

Before reading this post you should check this out
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cCBwLJjzDJQ

The reason I wanted to show you that was to show you the potential for a laser to target and remotely destory an object and space. Now beyond its obvious uses as a weapon such a technology also has great potential for many civilian applications.

With regards to orbital debris I cannot see why in the future orbital debris cannot be destroyed in same manner as the rockets and mortar shells were destoryed in the video I just referenced. In the video I linked to you see a laser destroying both rockets and mortar shells that were fired in its direction. These objects were traveling at hundreds if not thousands of km per hour relative to the laser at significant distances, yet the laser was able to destory them remotely with a few seconds without moving an inch. It therefore makes sense considering the advances in laser and space technology that in the near future we will have the technology to place laser in space that will be able to do the same thing with orbital space debris. This is much more efficent and economic than other methods because a laser satellite would not have to move anywhere or consume any expensive propellants. Such a satellite could be place in a stationary orbit and use solar power as an energy source.

Such given enough time I can see a future laser space system deflecting small asteriods and even large asteriods if given sufficent time by means of Ablative laser propulsion. This method is a beam propulsion method by which a laser is used to turn the surface of an object into a plasma. The plasma then expands and generates thrust like a rocket.

See lightcraft
http://www.lightcrafttechnologies.com/


So my point is that the potential of laser technology in space is vast for both military and civilian purposes. My only problem is that the current fears of space weapons may stall this awesome technology for civilian as well as military purposes.
 
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xXTheOneRavenXx

Guest
I have heard this topic tossed around the internet, read about investigations, possible resolutions, and even as far as deciding who's responsibility is it to clean up space. The topic also touches on how would the costs be "fairly" divided up among the many nations responsible for creating the current mess in the first place, and future debis created. Myself personally, I think the majority of the costs could easily be determined with the larger easily identifiable objects. Charge per cubic measurement, or by the amount of energy utilized to eliminate that peice of debis from orbit. I would like to hear what you idea's are on solutions for the cleanup, as well the best type of global agency that could be formed to ensure national regulations are followed, develop new laws to ensure the safety disposal of these objects and preventing operational objects from being targeted.

http://www.space.com/news/091208-space-junk-cleanup-meeting.html
 
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MeteorWayne

Guest
This really is a Space Business and Tecnology subject, and there are many threads there discussing it, which I am in the process of consolidating. So you will find this post in one of them shortly; though I like the general nature of your title. This might be the title that all the others get merged into, though yours won't be the first post, as this discussion has been going on for a looooong time.

Wayne
 
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xXTheOneRavenXx

Guest
Ty Wayne. I kind of was looking for the "science" that would go into such a project rather than the business aspect of the subject. I guess I can see how it can tie into both forums. I apologize for not noticing the other forums discussing this topic. But of course, what ever you like:)
 
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xXTheOneRavenXx

Guest
One of the problems (besides the huge costs associated with such an undertaking) is what sort of agency would be trustworthy enough to handle eliminating junk, while at the same time ensuring that multi-national assets are not touched. I guess the problem could be solved by breaking the agency down into sections. Each section would represent a specific countries assets (weither or not ID'd as junk). It is these section to whom would the coordination with the proper authorities in that country and follow appropriate actions dictated to them. It's not exactly rocket science. lol, no pun intended. If the destruction of space junk is to be conducted, first the agency would determine to whom it belongs, assign the appropriate section based it's country of origin. A person qualified on the procedures from that section would carry out the destruction as per directives from that country. Seems easy enough, but I'm sure it would still have many complexities.... but it's a start.
 
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xXTheOneRavenXx

Guest
Good day all. I hope everyone had a great Christmas, and Happy New Year.

I'd like to touch on this "space debris" subject a bit more. For those in a qualified position, DARPA is looking for innovative solutions to the very issue we are discussing here.

DARPA Orbital Debris Removal
 
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EarthlingX

Guest
xXTheOneRavenXx":39cn3y6u said:
Good day all. I hope everyone had a great Christmas, and Happy New Year.

I'd like to touch on this "space debris" subject a bit more. For those in a qualified position, DARPA is looking for innovative solutions to the very issue we are discussing here.

DARPA Orbital Debris Removal
This sounds like getting from talking to doing. Nice move.
 
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xXTheOneRavenXx

Guest
It's about time if you ask me that they offer up contracts to resolving this problem.
 
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Crossover_Maniac

Guest
I had the idea of using mass-produces microsats (10-100 lb satellites) propelled by solar electric propulsion that would be launched by the dozens to the hundreds to either collect small debris and hold it inside a storage area inside the microsat for the nuts and bolts in space or have several of them latch on to larger pieces of debris (satellite, upper stage, etc) and then use the solar electric propulsion system to decelerate the debris into Earth's atmosphere.
 
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MeteorWayne

Guest
It's amazing how many people don't understand the physics involved. To orbit a vehicle, it has to be travleing ~ 17000 mph when it reaches orbit. That means it has to be traveling how fast to plow through the atmopshere, and still have that amount of speed left at 100 miles height? And it won't burn up moving 25000 mph (mach 36)at launch? Gimme a break.
 
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edkyle99

Guest
EarthlingX":37hmwude said:
xXTheOneRavenXx":37hmwude said:
Good day all. I hope everyone had a great Christmas, and Happy New Year.

I'd like to touch on this "space debris" subject a bit more. For those in a qualified position, DARPA is looking for innovative solutions to the very issue we are discussing here.

DARPA Orbital Debris Removal
This sounds like getting from talking to doing. Nice move.
This could be a "killer app" for the next era in space. If there have been some 4,500-plus successful orbital launches over the years, then there could be a need for 4,500-plus more launches to perform the cleanup work!

Of course there won't need be that many launches, but I could see a need to identify the most serious threats out there and to target them for rendezvous/safe-ing missions. As for who does the work, it would seem that whoever launched the stuff should be responsible for getting it. One problem is that at least one of the countries that launched a lot of stuff (USSR) no longer exists!

- Ed Kyle
 
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