October 17, 2019
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Science & Technology

Russian scientists patent system to collect space debris

Moscow, Sep 12 (efe-epa).- Student Russian scientists have patented a system of devices to remove space garbage from the Earth's orbit.

Russia's Ministry of Education and Science said on Thursday that students at Bauman Moscow State Technical University have developed a “unique system of spacecraft to clean the circumferential orbit of the upper stages of carrier rockets and other large objects”.

The scientists have received a patent to develop the ships, which makes them "monopolists" in the field, according to the ministry.

Professor of aerospace systems Gueorgui Scheglov, who directed the project, said that the system consists of several ships: a main space module and about 15 minor braking modules.

The modules will be attached to fragments of space debris and will remove them from the orbit of the planet.

“In other countries there are similar projects, there are several US patents, but their schemes are less rational than ours,” Scheglov told Russian news agency Tass.

“In particular they have many mechanical arms and large coupling loads.

“We study all this before submitting the patent application.”

During the next stage, the scientists will design a prototype of the system, for which they require financing.

The developers will present their project at the 70th International Astronautical Congress in Washington.

Two weeks ago, the UN warned that six decades of the space race fought by humans has left thousands of tons of scrap metal in orbit that threaten satellite communication systems and the study of space itself.

Since 1957, when the competition to explore beyond Earth began, more than 5,000 launches have accumulated some 23,000 objects in orbit.

Of these, only about 1,200 are satellites in operation, according to the European Space Agency.

The rest is useless and is classified as space junk.

A huge problem is the waste arising from collisions between satellites or fuselages of rocket debris and other orbiting objects.

The situation is aggravated because it has a chain effect, the more objects in orbit, the more likely there are of collisions that create more drifting junk.

There are around 750,000 useless objects more than 1cm in size orbiting the Earth at 56,000km per hour, whose impact against a satellite or a space station could cause serious damage, the ESA has estimated.

There are currently no technical solutions for this problem and the only measure is to prevent the creation of new scrap metal. EFE-EPA

fss/rb

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