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Owlscrying

ISS will jettison "space trash"

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July 21

On July 23, Expedition 15 crewmember Clayton Anderson will journey outside of the space station to throw two large hunks of unneeded equipment towards Earth.

"This is the first time we've ever done a jettison quite like this on the space station," said Bob Dempsey, NASA's lead flight director for Expedition 15.

During the upcoming spacewalk, Anderson will jettison a 1,400-pound (635-kilograms) refrigerator-sized container of ammonia, or Early Ammonia Servicer (EAS), away from the station at a gentle pace of one mile per hour (1.6 kph).

He'll also toss a 212-pound (96-kilogram) stanchion used to attach a camera to the space laboratory toward the Earth.

Dempsey explained that discarding the equipment during an extravehicular activity (EVA), rather than shipping it back to Earth via a NASA shuttle.

Once tossed from the space station, both objects will be tracked by NASA for almost a year until they begin entering the atmosphere.

The agency expects the stanchion to burn up completely, but think pieces of the ammonia tank may reach the Earth's surface.

In addition to tossing the unneeded equipment overboard, cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin, Expedition 15's commander, will join Anderson on the spacewalk with cleaning and repair duties.

Flight engineer Oleg Kotov will control the robotic arm to shuttle the astronauts around outside of the station.

When the EVA is complete, the space station will be boosted to a higher orbit to prepare for docking with Endeavour early next month, as well as to avoid dangerous encounters with the ejected objects.

"We know the crew's ready," said Daryl Schuck, NASA's lead EVA officer for Expedition 15.

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Rather makes sense to me. If you need to jettison trash, jettison it in a manner that will dispose of it.

At 1 MPH, one might think that the debris might encounter the atmosphere in about a week. However, don't think that NASA trajectory folks are just randomly tossing stuff down.

These objects will enter rather eccentric orbits that will decay over time, allowing them to enter the atmosphere at angles that will allow for maximum heating and destruction of their structures. It sounds like a good plan to me, and one which will eventually provide a heck of a light show for folks on the surface!

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Posted (edited)

I just watched that bit of news on Olbermann - see video bit about it HERE

Wow! That Ammonia tank was HUGE!

Edited by Cinders

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Posted (edited)

I just watched that bit of news on Olbermann - see video bit about it HERE

Wow! That Ammonia tank was HUGE!

Yes, it was. However, this toss was not simply a random toss. It was designed (and trained for) so as to attain a specific trajectory that will allow these things to enter at least semi-specific orbits that will degrade over time and enter the atmosphere so as to incenerate during re-entry. The ISS was maneuvered to be out of the way, and gradually, this eccentric orbit will find the objects skimming the upper atmosphere, and degrading the orbits...allowing them to re-enter the atmosphere, and incinerate.

It's a good way of disposing of un-used gear!

I think it would be better if folks like Olberman actually got a NASA rep to explain what they were doing , and some specifics on it, rather than have the Chief Astronomer from an un-associated museum talk about the dangers of space debris...the impression gathered from this bit is that we're just tossing junk overboard and contributing to trash in space...which is decidedly not the case.

Edited by MID

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