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Swiss craft 'janitor satellites' to grab space junk

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#1 Hum

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Posted 15 February 2012 - 15:56

GENEVA (AP) — The tidy Swiss want to clean up space.

Swiss scientists said Wednesday they plan to launch a "janitor satellite" specially designed to get rid of orbiting debris known as space junk.

The 10-million-franc ($11-million) satellite called CleanSpace One — the prototype for a family of such satellites — is being built by the Swiss Space Center at the Swiss Federal Institute for Technology in Lausanne, or EPFL.

EPFL said Wednesday its launch would come within three to five years and its first tasks are to grab two Swiss satellites launched in 2009 and 2010.

The U.S. space agency NASA says over 500,000 pieces of spent rocket stages, broken satellites and other debris are being tracked as they orbit Earth.

The debris travels at speeds approaching 17,500 miles per hour (28,000 kilometers per hour), fast enough to destroy or inflict costly and time-draining damage on a satellite or spacecraft. Collisions, in turn, generate more fragments floating in space.

"It has become essential to be aware of the existence of this debris and the risks that are run by its proliferation," said Claude Nicollier, an astronaut and EPFL professor.

Building the satellite means developing new technology to address three big problems, scientists say.

The first hurdle has to do with trajectory: The satellite has to be able to adjust its path to match that of its target. EPFL said its labs are looking into a new ultra-compact motor that can do this.

Next, the satellite has to be grab hold of and stabilize the debris at high speeds. Scientists are studying how plants and animals grip things as a model for what would be used.

And, finally, CleanSpace One has to be able to take the debris, or unwanted satellites, back into Earth's atmosphere, where they will burn on re-entry.

Swiss Space Center's director, Volker Gass, said it hopes to someday "offer and sell a whole family of ready-made systems, designed as sustainably as possible, that are able to de-orbit several different kinds of satellites."

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#2 neoadorable

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Posted 16 February 2012 - 03:45

Good concept and glad to see the Swiss are making themselves useful again. But one of these just to remove two specific pieces won't be enough, we need a whole fleet of these janitors. Of course we also need to educate all launching parties to stop using outmoded tech that's likely to create more debris.

#3 spacer

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Posted 16 February 2012 - 03:47

I was totally expecting the concept art of this janitor satellite to look like WALL-E.

#4 Biotoxic_hazard_835

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Posted 16 February 2012 - 04:02

I read somewhere those janitor satellites are going to be something like this.



#5 OP Hum

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Posted 16 February 2012 - 15:49

The Swiss stole my idea ! :s sue sue sue

#6 FMH

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Posted 16 February 2012 - 16:42

neowin
Swiss plan to send waste-disposal satellite into space

Posted Image


Lausanne, Switzerland - Swiss engineers want to remove man-made waste from space, by building a
vehicle that would grab old satellites orbiting the earth, the Swiss Space Center announced Wednesday
in Lausanne.
Some 16 000 pieces of so-called space debris are racing around the planet and pose an increasing
threat, as they could collide with active satellites or spacecraft.
The space centre, which is part of the national technology institute EPFL, plans to send a small satellite
called CleanSpace One into space to grab the centre's even smaller satellite SwissCube, which was
launched in 2009 and measures 10 cubic centimetres.
'We put it up there, so we are going to bring it back down,' said the centre's director Volker Gass,
stressing the project's ethical component. (Y)
Several space agencies including DLR in Germany are also working on solutions to dispose space
waste, but no discarded parts of satellites, rockets or spacecraft have ever been collected.
'We want to offer and sell a whole family of ready-made systems, designed as sustainably as possible,
that are able to de-orbit several different kinds of satellites,' Gass said.
However, the first version that is to be launched within three to five years will not yet be able to bring
SwissCube back to earth, but both objects will burn when re-entering the atmosphere.
'One has to work on achievable targets. Otherwise you never get into space,' Gass said.

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#7 articuno1au

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Posted 16 February 2012 - 16:43

REPOST.

YOU'RE A BAD PERSON FMH.

Just kidding..

About the bad person part >.>

#8 FMH

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Posted 16 February 2012 - 16:51

YOU'RE A BAD PERSON FMH.

:cry:

Just kidding..

About the bad person part >.>

:woot:

#9 Geoffrey B.

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Posted 16 February 2012 - 16:57

i wish more people were willing to spend the money to remove their junk from space. most people/organizations simply believe it will eventually crash down to earth so it isnt such a big deal.

#10 articuno1au

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Posted 16 February 2012 - 16:59

Your above post is why you aren't a bad person :p

#11 FMH

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Posted 16 February 2012 - 17:03

Your above post is why you aren't a bad person :p


Thanks. :)

Even though you hardly know me, you're right about that. :D

#12 Lee G.

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Posted 16 February 2012 - 17:07

Threads merged.