Space debris is a growing threat to operational Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites, as well as the Space Station and any rocket launches. They are also problems for ground-based telescopes observing space as reflections from space debris degrade the images. Having a method to remove spent rocket casings, defunct satellites and other large orbital debris, is something the space industry really needs.

According to NASA’s Orbital Debris Program, there are around 19,000 objects bigger than 10cm (4 inches) and 500,000 items between 1-10cm (0.4-4inches) floating around in space. Much of this smaller debris comes from larger pieces that breakdown due to ageing, collisions, old satellites and rocket explosions, and from rocket stage separations during launch. Some of the debris is natural, from asteroids, meteors, and comets. Most of this debris is in the 800-850km (497-528 mile) orbit.

Global Aerospace Corporation propose a GAC's Gossamer Orbit Lowering Device (GOLD) to safely de-orbit from LEOs any large orbital debris. The patented concept proposes very large, around 100m (328ft) in diameter, ultra thin balloon envelopes to increase aerodynamic drag by a factor of several hundred and greatly reduce the time for the object to burn up in re-entry - from centuries to months.

Even at a few hundred kilometers above Earth there is a minute molecular atmosphere that creates drag, and the GOLD balloon increases the drag dramatically, lowering the orbit and removing the object by burning it up in the upper atmosphere.

According to GAC, even if GOLD is punctured by small meteorites, the balloon will stay inflated since only a small positive pressure is required to maintain inflation in the vacuum of space. The GOLD device could be fitted to satellites and upper rocket stages before launch or attached by robot missions sent to de-orbit the debris after the satellite is no longer of use.

Visit: http://www. gaerospace. com

Via Space Daily

Via:www.greenmuze. соm

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