Leave room for astronauts – Nauka – Kommersant

Wherever a person shows up, debris will certainly appear, and space is no exception. According to the US (NORAD, NASA), European (DISCOS, ESA) and Russian (ASPOS OKP) catalogs of space debris, approximately 20,000 registered space objects larger than 10 cm are observed in space near Earth. In order to observe and register smaller debris, it is necessary to create a special spacecraft to observe small fractions of space debris.

Space debris is of cosmogenic and artificial origin. Cosmogens are called the solar system’s “building materials”, such as micrometeorites, interplanetary or interstellar dust. Technogenic is all that man has created. Technogenic space debris is classified into the following categories: small (less than 5 mm), medium (from 5 mm to 10 cm) and large fragments (more than 10 cm).

The most clogged orbits are: low orbits 300–400 km (space debris “lives here” for no more than three to four months), 800–1000 km and 1200–1500 km; solar synchronous orbits, medium-sized orbits (from 2000 km to 35786 km) and geostationary orbit (35786 km).

Space debris objects in space near the earth create a real danger of high-speed collisions of functioning vehicles with passive fragments. The cause of the early destruction of the object may be a collision with a particle smaller than 0.1 cm at a speed of 10 km / s. The probability of a collision of a spacecraft with an area of ​​6 m at an altitude of 900 km is 10 ^ –6 in 90 years. Of course, while this probability is very small, but every year it will grow, because the growth of space debris is 6-12% per year. The highest probability of spacecraft collision with space debris is found in low orbits, about 500-1500 km high.

Recently, there have been several collisions of cataloged objects of space debris.

Collisions of space objects

Many ways have been developed to counter space debris: from the most common, such as crushing large space debris, removing space debris, or removing space debris from orbit, to less common ones, such as smashing debris with a laser or machining it. to fuel. It is impossible to use only one method of countermeasures for all types of space debris. For example, it is impossible to catch small space debris with a net, and it is useless to stop large space debris with gas.

However, there are two main areas:

– methods for crushing space debris directly into orbit;

Methods for retardation and removal of large space debris from low orbits for subsequent combustion into the atmosphere or removal of space debris from a geostationary orbit to a disposal orbit.

In addition, both methods have disadvantages associated with the formation of fragments of a smaller fraction, falls of unburned fragments to the ground and clogging of higher paths.

And why not develop a spacecraft that will absorb space debris? Such a device exists. The idea of ​​creating a space debris disposal device is based on the processing of space debris into pseudo-liquid fuel, which is a mixture of powdered crushed space debris with oxygen and hydrogen. Space debris consists mainly of the materials shown in Fig. 2.

The robot search system finds the location of the debris to be destroyed, as shown in Fig. 3.

The waste collector turns the motors, folds the fan-shaped solar collector and moves through the accumulation of space debris, releasing a trap in the form of deformable nets on a cable system. He catches up with debris in orbit, at an altitude of 800 km and catches it with a net on cables. The nets consist of triangular links, which when the net is compressed form a dense fabric. Such a structure of networks makes it possible to avoid entanglement of space debris in them, and consequently failure of SCM. When space debris is detected, the dome net is automatically placed on cables from telescopic guide rails on the cone net, which can retract the cables. Also connected by cables, the dome-shaped and cone-shaped networks form a closed cavity – a waste collector, which shrinks when space debris arrives for disposal. The recycling system consists of the following components: a trap, a two-roll mill, a drum ball mill, a diaphragm-electrode unit, a water regenerator, a control unit, a fuel tank and engines.

The space debris collector uses space debris and processes it into fuel, the use of which allows the spacecraft to gradually rise to higher orbits, up to the burial orbit (over 40,000 km), and cleans up outer space.

The easiest way to clear outer space of debris is to interrupt space activity for ten years and wait for the earth’s gravity to do its job, but then humanity will slip, at best, into the 19th century. If nothing is done, with the current growth rate of space activity, we will soon simply not be able to launch spacecraft (this phenomenon is called Kessler’s syndrome) and will at best slide into the same 19th century.

Now, in the near space of the earth, an ecosystem is emerging, in biological language. In this ecosystem, as in all others, there are beings who live, feed, perform their functions and, when they die, give food to other beings. In space activities we must also imitate nature. Creatures that “eat carcasses” can and should become space debris collectors in the broadest sense of the word. But at present, 60 years of cosmic duration is a very short time to create a closed ecosystem called “outer space”.

Maria Barkova, PhD student, Russian Space Systems JSC


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