The Space Trash Collection Contest: Space Net Va Space Harpoon

Printer-friendly versionSend by emailPDF version

The long going debate between butterfly nets versus space harpoons is to be settled soon in a traditional manner. Survey Space Center recently announced their space trash collection mission. Named as RemoveDEBRIS, it is slated to launch next year. There is more than seven thousands tons of trash that has been orbiting our planet. Plenty of technologies are already out there helping scientists clean the outer space. These debris have a huge risk of collision which can be hazardous for active satellites and other spacecrafts. It is one of the first initiatives that more than one technologies will compete against each other to collect trash.

On one side, Space Net will be placed which will collect large and small pieces of space trash. It is a huge sized trash collector that drifts all kind of garbage from space. On the other end will be Space Harpoon which works exactly like its name and spears specific pieces of trash and puts them back in the bag. A third option has also been suggested under which future satellites will be bestowed with drag sails which will make them burn into our atmosphere rather than increasing level of space garbage. However, this option will be exercised on last moment when space harpoons or space net would fail to serve their purpose.

In the first phase, RemoveDEBRIS will examine these three methods and their applicability. It wouldn’t be attempting any large scale clean up but would make all attempts to watch out full scale functionality of these three techniques. With 7000 tons of trash floating around our planet, it is highly risky to leave it unattended. The idea of cleaning our surroundings seems not only interesting but also very meaningful. It wouldn’t be collecting trash from space but would actually throw the space debris in the orbit. Once it is done with this, it will try to pick up this trash. You can understand the process by taking an example of a cleaning crew that strews up all the trash cans on highway in first half of the day and then picking it up during the second half of the day.

The net, harpoon, and buoy will all work together under which net will try to pick up trash of all shapes and sizes. If you can get over the fact that the trash-collecting spacecraft will throw as much trash as it picks up, you will find a way to agree with this project.