posted on Jan, 10 2013 @ 03:38 PM
Ok, heres the thing. In the sixty or so years since man first chucked an object beyond the confines of our atmosphere, we have produced, literally
MILLIONS of individual bits of debris, and thats just the stuff that is large enough to actually see with our plethora of detectors.
Within the number of those millions of objects, are allegedly thirty two or so nuclear power plants, which used to run satellites and other defunct
space machinery, but are now just free floating junk, hurtling around the space close to Earth, at more than twenty thousand miles an hour, along with
all the other, less terrifying, but still dangerous lumps of debris up there. At such speeds, a chip of paint can put a crack in a space ship window,
which come in inches thick, and are designed to be very hard indeed.
Now, I have been watching a few programmes, looking around the internet, and have found a few solutions being thought about in the space industry at
the moment. One involves attatching solar sail like contraptions to the larger bits of orbiting refuse, to slow them down to the point where Earths
gravity can grasp them more firmly, pull them in, and therefore see the object burn up in the atmosphere. Another idea, which is similar in its aim,
is to attatch a ruddy great big balloon to these objects, having the same braking effect, and having the same end result, of an atmospheric burn up of
the offending article. Perhaps the most interesting is a harpoon, being developed in the UK, which, using compressed air apparantly, will lob a
barbed arrow into chunks of satellites. Those arrows will be attatched to wires, linked back to the launch platform. At this point, having been
secured in such a fashion to the launch platform the whole thing, launcher and captured object, will again plummet to Earth.
Is it just me that considers all these solutions to be somewhat...pathetic? Is the best we can do with this junk, to slow it down, and drop it on our
planet? Some of these objects contain significant levels of radiation after all, and so I really am not even remotely comfortable with something like
that being burnt up in the atmosphere, since we have done enough radioactive polution of our atmosphere in the decades recently passed.
I wish therefore to pose a question. What do the membership think, would be a better solution? I am personally in favour of a solution that involves
recycling these objects, using collector vessels to entrap the objects, and either re-purpose them while the vehicle is moving through space, or bring
them down to be used again, either in experimentation to refine our understanding of how long exposure to space alters the material strength of
various metals and plastics. Merely transporting these objects (which must come together to weigh some considerable hundreds of tonnes or more) to the
atmosphere, where they can be destroyed, seems a little lazy to me. Is there no way we could do something more positive with these things? I mean,
they are already up there after all right? So maybe we could re-use these things in future orbiting structures, if we could capture them in the first