Newly launched spacecraft will clean up space debris orbiting Earth


Salon noted that as more satellites launch into our orbit, “the massive amount of space junk “poses a serious issue for potential collisions or inhibiting the function of these satellites.” Introducing, the “space janitor.”

On Monday, a spacecraft named ELSA-d (which stands for End-of-Life Services by Astroscale) launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, its mission – “to test a way to clean up space debris,” Salon reported. It’s a “very tedious catch-and-release dance.”

According to the mission’s web page, ELSA-d consists of two space crafts: a servicer satellite and a client satellite that will act as a space janitor for man-made orbital debris. However, it “is not designed to capture dead satellites already in orbit, but rather future ones that would be launched with compatible docking plates.” Mondays mission is part of a test “to see if the two satellites are up for the job.” “The servicer satellite will use its magnetic docking mechanism to target and rendezvous with the client satellite,” the web page explains. A private Japanese company called Astroscale is behind the mission.

Salon explained that ELSA-d will “attach itself to future dead satellites and other space junk and then proceed to push them toward Earth,” where upon entering Earth’s atmosphere, they can burn up. Here’s how it works.

Auburn said: “It’s enormously complex because you have to exactly match the motion of the spacecraft you’re docking with.” He added, “When a spacecraft docks with the International Space Station, that’s a very controlled maneuver. But if you’re trying to dock with a failed satellite, it could be tumbling and you have to very slowly come together almost like you’re doing a dance.” Salon cited John Auburn, Astroscale’s managing director in the United Kingdom, who explained to NBC News that “this is a very tedious catch-and-release dance to do in space.”

Source Salon noted however, that if these satellites “can stick the dance,” ELSA-d could be a “viable solution to a growing problem in space.” READ MORE:

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