China tests retracting sail to remove space junk

This kite-like space sail will help dismantle a rocket component within two years.

This kite-like space sail will help dismantle a rocket component within two years.
picture: Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology

engineers in China They have successfully deployed an ultra-thin sail attached to a portion of the rocket to expedite its departure from low Earth orbit and reduce the amount of space junk Floating above our planet aimlessly.

The 269-square-foot (25-square-meter) sail was released after launch from a Long March 2D rocket on June 24. Although the mission has not been announced in advance, the Shanghai Academy of Spacecraft Technology (SAST) announce A few days later, the drag sail was successfully deployed to help de-orbit the rocket component, which It won’t happen for another two years or so.

When lifted, kite-shaped feather Increases Air drag that works against associated object, Hence the acceleration orbital decay. missile component It will then meet its fate much sooner, as it slips out of orbit and burns up in Earth’s atmosphere on its way down. It’s a possibility a little-cost solution for The ever-growing problem of space debris.

The recently released tug sail is made of an ultra-thin material, about a tenth the diameter of a human hair. The component to which it is currently attached, the rocket’s upper stage payload converter, weighs about 661 pounds (300 kilograms) and orbits the Earth at an altitude of about 305 miles (491 kilometers), according to SAST. The rocket is expected to drop to lower altitudes with increased friction due to the sail and return to Earth’s atmosphere in about two years.

China was a bit reckless Recently When taking out missiles from battles. In April, debris likely caused by a Chinese missile disintegrated upon its return Fallen on a western village in India. Similarly in May 2021, a China’s Long March 5B missile landed in the Indian Ocean After performing the uncontrolled re-entry Earth’s atmosphere. A year earlier in May 2020, another Long March 5B rocket appeared it causes Pieces of debris fell on two villages in Côte d’Ivoire, damaging people’s homes.

The drag sail will help remove the missile from Earth’s orbit sooner than it would on its own, but it is not clear whether China will determine where the missile parts fall in order to avoid populated areas.

It is hoped that new technology will help in clearing unwanted space. The Department of Defense’s Global Space Monitoring Network is currently tracking more than 27,000 pieces of orbital debris, and many smaller pieces in the near-Earth environment. according to to NASA. Ideally, as countries continue to expand their space programs, they will also find a way to get their spacecraft out of orbit not only more quickly, but also less harmfully.

more: The coolest photos taken by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft.

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