Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Contact us    |    Advertise    |   Help   RSS icon Twitter icon Facebook icon
    Home  ·  News  ·  Forum  ·  Stories  ·  Image Gallery  ·  Columns  ·  Encyclopedia  ·  Videos
Find: in

Harpoon could drag satellites out of the sky


Posted on Friday, 16 March, 2018 | Comment icon 10 comments

Is de-orbiting defunct satellites a viable strategy ? Image Credit: US Air Force
Airbus has been developing a new type of harpoon in an effort to reduce the build-up of space junk in orbit.
Satellites and spacecraft are already running a daily gauntlet of spent rocket stages, screws, bolts and other objects that currently encircle our world. As time goes on, the problem will reach the point at which it will be too risky to send anything else up in to space due to the risk of a collision.

Now in a renewed bid to tackle the problem before it's too late, Airbus has come up with a new harpoon system designed to latch on to and drag defunct satellites out of orbit.

The harpoon, which will be mounted on a small interceptor spacecraft, has been developed with the goal of bringing down Europe's defunct 8-ton Envisat Earth observation platform.

"If we can design a harpoon that can cope with Envisat, then it should be able to cope with all other types of spacecraft including the many rocket upper-stages that remain in orbit," said Alastair Wayman, one of the engineers working on the project.

Ensuring that the harpoon is capable of successfully latching on to the 3cm-thick, composite honeycomb panels typically used in satellite construction is particularly important.

"The harpoon goes through these panels like a hot knife through butter," said Wayman. "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."


Source: BBC News | Comments (10)

Tags: Airbus, Harpoon, Space Junk

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Grandpa Greenman on 16 March, 2018, 13:47
That would be a fun job to have.
Comment icon #2 Posted by RoofGardener on 16 March, 2018, 14:12
WHITE WHALE....WHIIITEEE WHAAAALE... WHITE... oh.. wait.. no.. it's just a Mistubishi X1 communications relay satellite. Ah well. It should be noted that all Airbus have created is a pointy stick. They still need a "chase spaceship" (and a tether) before their Pointy Stick would actually DO anything.
Comment icon #3 Posted by Grandpa Greenman on 16 March, 2018, 16:12
Comment icon #4 Posted by moonman on 16 March, 2018, 16:29
I thought they meant from the ground, that would be something. This, not so impressive.
Comment icon #5 Posted by Hankenhunter on 22 March, 2018, 0:35
So are they going to with the junk? Send it to earth? Collect everything into a giant orbiting scrap yard? Chuck it out into the void? Will they hire some guy named Ahab? These questions need answers. Hank
Comment icon #6 Posted by Merc14 on 22 March, 2018, 18:03
Interesting how they soft soap what teh Chinese did a few years ago by making it sound like they were trying to deorbit a satellite.
Comment icon #7 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 22 March, 2018, 18:49
Funny, that's pretty much the excuse the USA used when they fired an anti-satellite missile at the failed USA-196 spy satellite in 2008. In 1985, when the USAF destroyed the Solwind satellite in orbit they didn't even bother inventing spurious excuses and just plain admitted it was a test of an anti-satellite weapon. China has done nothing that the USA and Soviet Union/Russia hadn't done already. That doesn't make it right but it does make the USA's complaints at the time a little hypocritical.
Comment icon #8 Posted by Merc14 on 22 March, 2018, 19:09
Neither the USA nor Rusia wasmentioned in the video and I very much doubt they would ever soft soap if they were.
Comment icon #9 Posted by Grandpa Greenman on 23 March, 2018, 22:06
As we deorbit all this junk, (which needs to be done) howare all burned particulates going to affect the upper atmosphere? Is there enough of it to have an effect?
Comment icon #10 Posted by khol on 24 March, 2018, 1:03
What I dont get is how we can be so irresponsible in the first place ?? Isnt it a no brainer orbiting debris would create huge safety issues to our space programs and communication satellites ? Creating space junk of this magnitude is completely insane to begin with. Humans have complete disregard for any kind of enviorment..terrestrial or otherwise. Is it impossiblenotto create junkor could we have developed better methods ? just nuts


Please Login or Register to post a comment.


  On the forums
Uranus smells like rotten eggs, say scientists
4-23-2018
Hydrogen sulfide, which gives rotten eggs their smell, has been discovered in the seventh planet's atmosphere.
'Super Earth' aliens may be trapped by gravity
4-23-2018
On planets more massive than the Earth, launching things in to space will be a lot more challenging.
Bill Gates backs 'big brother' satellite network
4-23-2018
Known as EarthNow, the project aims to offer live streaming of the entire planet 24 hours a day.
Asteroid mining could be worth trillions
4-22-2018
According to Goldman Sachs, asteroid mining has the potential to produce the world's first trillionaires.
Featured Videos
Gallery icon 
What does space smell like ?
Posted 4-23-2018 | 0 comments
Does the vacuum of space actually smell of anything and if so, what ?
 
Why is US paper money green ?
Posted 4-22-2018 | 0 comments
Simon Whistler investigates why the color green was used when printing US bank notes.
 
Revealing the secrets of the deep ocean
Posted 4-19-2018 | 0 comments
Scientist Mandy Joye has dedicated her life to exploring the depths of the world's oceans.
 
Giant 3D-printed man
Posted 4-15-2018 | 2 comments
British YouTuber James Bruton has created a giant 3D-printed sculpture of himself.
 
The world's roundest object
Posted 4-12-2018 | 2 comments
A look at how the roundest object can help us to define the humble kilogram.
 
 View: More videos
Stories & Experiences
Dreams and clues to the future
3-31-2018 | Philippines and Germany
 
Black cloaked figure
3-31-2018 | Carlisle, Cumbria, England
 
Three knocks
3-8-2018 | Canada
 
Two shadows of me
3-8-2018 | Bellflower, LA
 
I think I know what I saw
3-5-2018 | Near Sultan, Washington
 
Ghost, or something else ?
3-5-2018 | Ohio, USA
 
 
Black hole in Bismarck
2-14-2018 | Mandan
 
 
Trapped and chased
2-9-2018 | Saskatchewan canada
 

         More stories | Send us your story
 
Top   |  Home   |   Forum   |   News   |   Image Gallery   |  Columns   |   Encyclopedia   |   Videos   |   Polls
UM-X 10.7 Unexplained-Mysteries.com 2001-2018
Terms   |   Privacy Policy   |   Cookies   |   Advertise   |   Contact   |   Help/FAQ