Space Junk: The UK wants to “recover” and burn down retired satellites

Space Junk: The UK wants to "recover" and burn down retired satellites

The UK plans to launch a mission in 2026 to capture two retired national satellites and burn them into our planet’s atmosphere. The purpose is to demonstrate that a spacecraft is capable of removing more than one space debris.

Three companies are vying for a total of 5 5 million (close to R $ 32 million) in contributions to develop proposals: ClearSpace, Astroscale and Surrey Satellite Technology (SSL); Only two of them will be selected to share the development funds, and only one will undertake the work, with a contract of up to 60 million.

There are more than 30,000 space debris in Earth’s orbit; Among them, there are at least 2,500 decommissioned satellites (Image: Reproduction / NASA’s Goddard Space Aviation Center / JSC)

Each company proposes a different way to do the task: for example, Astroscale wants to use a robotic arm to capture each satellite, while Clearspace plans to use four of them to “hug” objects and bring them into the atmosphere. SSTL explores the possibility of capturing one satellite using a large web and pulling another by a robotic arm.

Currently, there are more than 12 satellites for “recovery”, and the pair that will be the target of the mission is not yet defined. There are no major legal restrictions for countries with plans for their own satellites, but for the UK, some issues with the camp’s Civil Aviation Authority need to be resolved before proceeding with the mission.

The project is the largest financial aid ever dedicated to space travel and is expected to make a number of similar initiatives in the future. “We are trying to accelerate the development of these technologies,” said Jacob Keer of the UK Space Agency. “We are about to send a satellite to remove two objects; This is an important step not only for the UK but for everyone.

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Source: The new scientist

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