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Debris

Space

ESA's mission to de-clutter low-Earth orbit takes a step forward

ESA's mission to mitigate the environmental impacts on low-Earth orbit from mankind's relentless march into space has entered a new phase, ahead of its make-or-break review before the ESA's Council of Ministers in December 2016. The e.Deorbit program would launch multiple debris-seeking probes into orbit each year, tasked with the removal of defunct satellites and other potentially hazardous man-made objects from low-Earth orbit.Read More

Space station crew takes shelter as debris passes

For the fourth time in history, the crew of the International Space Station (ISS) had to temporarily take shelter in their "lifeboat" as a piece of an old weather satellite made its closest approach today at 8:01 am EDT. As a precaution, the three men of Expedition 44 sealed hatches and porthole covers before retreating to the Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft docked with the station.Read More

Space

Lasers could be used to zap orbital debris

Orbital debris is increasingly becoming a hazard to satellites and other spacecraft, which is why various groups have proposed concepts such as gas clouds, nets and sails for collecting it. While those approaches could capture larger objects, the problem of smaller pieces of debris – which whiz around the Earth like bullets – would remain. That's why an international group of scientists is developing a system that could shoot those bits down with a laser. Read More

Space

ESA tests the potential of grabbing derelict satellites using a simple net

The ESA has been testing the possibility of using one of mankind's earliest inventions to cope with one of its newest challenges, by testing a concept that would allow satellites to net and de-orbit space debris in a safe and controlled manner. Space debris is an ever-increasing problem, and agencies around the world are starting to take steps to preserve the low-Earth orbit environment vital for a sustainable space industry.Read More

Space

Construction begins on Space Fence radar system

Ground was broken at the future six-acre (2.4-hectare) site of the new Space Fence radar system in a special ceremony last month on Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. The ceremony marked the official start of construction of the system that will replace the Air Force Space Surveillance System (AFSSS) in tracking objects in orbit, including commercial and military satellites and debris from collisions.Read More

Space

US satellite explodes and ESA assesses risk

A US Air Force weather satellite exploded in Earth orbit on February 3, scattering debris along its path. In a report by Space.com, Air Force and space officials indicated the breakup of Defense Meteorological Satellite Program Flight 13 (DMSP-F13) was due to a malfunction of its battery system rather than a collision with a foreign body. Meanwhile, The European Space Agency (ESA) has released an assessment of the hazard posed by the debris.Read More

Space

ESA to host workshop aimed at cleaning up low-Earth orbit

Key orbits frequented by GPS and communications satellites are becoming more and more hazardous, as man-made debris presents an increasingly palpable danger to the valuable assets orbiting at heights of around 2,000 km (1,243 miles) above the Earth. That' s why the European Space Agency (ESA) is hosting an international workshop geared towards cleaning up low-Earth orbit, with a focus on how to make the space industry more sustainable. Read More

Space

ESA sets its sights on harpooning space debris

In 2021, as part of its Clean Space Initiative, ESA plans to launch the e.DeOrbit mission. The aim of this mission is to clean up the important polar orbits between altitudes of 800 to 1,000 km (500 to 625 mil) that face the prospect of becoming unusable due to the increasing buildup of space debris. The ESA has now announced plans to examine the potential for the mission to use space harpoons to capture large items, such as derelict satellites and the upper stages of rockets.Read More

Space

ESA endeavours to understand the unpredictable tumbling of space debris

As part of its Clean Space Initiative, the ESA is planning a satellite salvage mission called e.DeOrbit that would use a satellite to net space debris and remove it from low Earth orbit. To capture such debris using an autonomous system, it needs to be targeted effectively, which is difficult when the debris is tumbling unpredictably. To fine tune the design of the e.DeOrbit mission, the ESA will commission a study to shed light on why space debris tumbles the way it does.Read More

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