Demonstration Mission to Get Rid of Space Junk

By: Kate Yu Date: 03/21/21

This Monday, March 22nd, a demonstration mission has been planned to test a method of cleaning up the space debris. The mission is known as ELSA-d and is going to launch from a launch site in Kazakhstan. The mission will manifest technology that can capture “space junks” which are millions of pieces of orbital debris floating just above earth. There are more than 8,000 metric tons of these debris out in the space in earth’s orbit. These space junks threaten loss or decrease in quality of services we rely on today in our society such as weather forecasting, telecommunication and GPS systems. In the effort to stop this from happening, they will be launching out ELSA-d and testing to see if this spacecraft is capable of capturing these space junks. The space craft works by attaching itself to a dead satellite and pushing towards earth to burn up the atmosphere. ELSA-d will be executed by two satellites: the “servicer satellite” and the “client satellite”. These two satellites will be launched together, and by using a magnetic docking technology, the servicer satellite will release and try to connect with the client satellite. The client satellite in this scenario, will act as a fake piece of space junk. This mission will run from the U.K. and is going to repeat this catch and release process for the 6 months period of time. When in actual use, the spacecraft will not attach to a dead satellite already out in space but the future satellites to be launched with suited docking places on them. 

Space junk has been a major issue for years as man-made objects are rapidly building up in earth orbit. These space junks had no way of getting rid of and people just had to wait until it decays, deorbits, explodes, or collides with other junks. Even when these junks collide and shatter it could cause other problems by colliding with another spacecraft issue. According to NASA almost 3% of the million space junks are the size of softballs and are traveling at speeds of 17,000mph. More than half of the space junks have enough impact to destroy another mission in place. Therefore this ELSA- d could be a method or helpful if it is successful.

Categories: Tech&Innovation