Airbus Is Creating a Space Harpoon to Capture Space Junk

Airbus Is Creating a Space Harpoon to Capture Space Junk

There are a lot of pieces of space junk orbiting the Earth that all pose risks to satellites and spacecraft. In order to remove space junk from outer space European company Airbus is creating a gigantic “space harpoon” that is high-tech and efficient. The one-meter-long harpoon will be attached to spacecraft which will target a peace of space junk and capture it. This will be quickly and efficiently. The aim of the spacecraft is to throw the junk down into the atmosphere, where it will be burnt and destroyed. While in operation, the harpoon will be fired at approximately 82 feet per second toward the junk in space. “The harpoon goes through these panels like a hot knife through butter” advanced project engineer Alastair Wayman said. “Once the tip is inside, it has a set of barbs that open up and stop the harpoon from coming back out. We’d then de-tumble the satellite with a tether on the other end.” In the word of Wayman the harpoon would be easier to use and track than a robotic arm attached to the spacecraft. In one of the reports from NASA in 2013 was indicated that there are more than over 20,000 pieces of space junk larger than a softball in outer space. If the pieces of junk go on to float around space at high speeds, they can damage vital satellites in space. The debris could be a threat to astronauts as well. As the amount of space junk continues to increase, this harpoon might be one of the best chances at removing space debris. Airbus hopes that the harpoon can capture the Europe’s Envisat Earth observation platform. It is one of the largest and most dangerous pieces of space junk currently in orbit. The European Space Agency started up Envisat in 2002, but it suddenly lost contact with the satellite in 2012. Now Airbus is developing its harpoon in the United Kingdom at the Surrey Space Centre.

Source: www.techtimes.com