Russian Scientists Introduced “Predatory” Satellite for Destroying Space Junk
OREANDA-NEWS. Russian scientists have created a project of a “predatory” satellite. The satellite will catch space junk with a special net and immediately recycle its “prey” into fuel for itself.
The project of the satellite, which will collect space junk in the orbit and immediately convert it into fuel for itself, was proposed by the scientists of the holding “Russian Space Systems” (RKS).
As reported by RKS, it is assumed that the spacecraft using special net made of titanium will collect small broken satellites, wreckage of spacecrafts and upper blocks and other operational garbage. After "catching" the junk, the net will automatically shrink, tamping the waste inside. Then the junk will be sent to a two-roll chopper, and then to a drum-ball mill, in which it is processed to the state of fine powder.
It is proposed to place a water regenerator onboard the SJC (space junk collector). Through a membrane-electrode block this device will produce an oxidizer (oxygen) and fuel (hydrogen). These two substances will be mixed with the powder from space junk and used as fuel for the onboard engine. It will be periodically turned on, so that according as the orbit is cleared of junk, the device will be rising higher and higher, ensuring its long-term performance.
For catching fragments, in addition to the main engine, it is proposed to install shunting engines on board the spacecraft. According to calculations, the mass of the device will be about 2.5 tons. In one cycle (seizure-shredding-recycling), it will be able to utilize up to 500 kg of space junk.
SJC will begin its work in the 400 km orbit, which will allow to minimize the cost of launching it, since it will not be necessary to use an upper block to bring the vehicle into this orbit. Subsequently, experts can raise it to 800–1500 km, into the most polluted orbits.
According to Maria Barkova, author of the project, research engineer of “RKS”, the device is a “predator” that hunts space junk to gain additional energy.