Just like our landfills are filling up with our rubbish removal, so is space, at least the portions of space that humans have touched. In fact, it is estimated that there are about 7500 tonnes of junk circulating Earth in orbital space outside our atmosphere. There are an estimated half a million pieces of space junk that are the size of a marble or bigger. This space junk consists of bits of rockets, broken pieces of satellites, and other human rubbish removal such as tools and other objects dropped by astronauts.
This space debris poses a major threat to any astronauts, space stations, rockets, satellites, and other instrumentation we put in orbit around Planet Earth. At the velocities involved, it is said that an object the size of a tissue box would rip through a satellite like a bullet. One tiny fleck of paint, probably off an old satellite, actually cracked a window on the International Space Station in 2016, according to a report by the European Space Agency.
NASA is funding a second round of research on a new type of “craft” that can escort debris back to the atmosphere where it would immediately burn up and no longer pose a threat. Dr. Siegfried Janson is leading the project for The Aerospace Corp, the company that won the research grant money from NASA. The craft is called the Brane Craft. It’s approximately three feet by three feet in area but so flat, less than half the width of a single human hair, it could almost be called a two dimensional object.
Dr. Janson is the technical genius behind CubeSats, tiny satellites that are about the size of a classic Rubik’s Cube. In his second round of funding from NASA, Dr. Janson will attempt to develop a rubbish removal machine that can withstand the climates of orbital Venus, orbital Jupiter, and orbital Saturn! Anywhere humans go, or plan to go, has to have a rubbish removal plan or we’ll have the same type of problem as here on Earth with our landfills and tonnes of rubbish in our oceans.
The Brane Craft’s size and design makes it exceptionally easy to maneuver, extremely fuel efficient, and very lightweight. It’s 100% solar powered and built to be a mean and clean rubbish removal machine! As it flies through space enveloping space junk, it looks like an ethereal membranous jelly fish type organism devouring its prey — at least it looks like that in the video demo provided through NASA. Electroactive polymers allow it to “contract” itself around space junk, basically swallowing it whole. One scientist called it “high-tech plastic” that could wrap around a piece of space debris and then take it to the edge of the atmosphere for incineration.
In 2018, the RemoveDebris spacecraft will be launched to test several methods of rubbish removal in space. It was assembled in Surrey with a total cost of £15 million pounds. One method of space rubbish removal that will be tested is a “net” that looks something like a casting net used to capture squid or shrimp, flung out and used to ensnare the space junk. Another method is a “harpoon” method with a “hook” being shot out on a long tether to “hook” the space debris and then pull it in. They will also be testing a “dragsail” method of orbital space rubbish removal, which looks like a giant spider web collecting debris which is then pulled into the atmosphere where it promptly burns up! All of this looks much like a magic show put on by weird creatures.
This new technology has been dubbed, “Active Debris Removal” (ADR) technology. The BBC called the scientists running these high tech RemoveDebris spacecraft “galactic bin men” and “galactic bin woman,” who may turn out to be a new type of international superhero in the not so distant future. The best part of the RemoveDebris spacecraft endeavor is it is a relatively low cost method of rubbish removal in orbital space. Further, the need for rubbish removal in orbital space, and possibly further out in space, is going to grow exponentially as we put more satellites and instrumentation in outer pace — and we humans attempt to spend more time in space, perhaps taking our vacations there or even living there!
Meanwhile, back on Earth, Clearabee continues its quest to rid the UK of junk in a way that does not continue to fill our already overflowing landfills across the country. Clearabee’s man and van rubbish removal service has gotten so popular, they have expanded the service to include the entirety of the UK, including Scotland and Wales. It’s a super flexible on demand same day, or next day, rubbish removal service that UK citizens have come to depend on and appreciate as first class. Beyond getting their rubbish removed, Clearabee’s customers have the satisfaction of knowing that ninety percent of the rubbish Clearabee removes gets reused or recycled! Plus, the men who remove the rubbish are paid a living wage!