Sep 1, 2010

Science Scene - Space Junk Net :o)

DARPA is considering a space junk capturing vehicle armed with 200 nets that gathers space garbage, much as a lepidopterist would net butterflies for a specimen collection. The technology was presented on Friday at the annual Space Elevator conference.

The Electrodynamic Debris Eliminator, or EDDE, is the brainchild of engineers at Star Inc. In practice, EDDE would zip around low earth orbit snaring bits of space garbage in its many nets where they cannot be a menace to other orbiting spacecraft. Star's CEO estimates that over seven years, 12 EDDE craft could clean up all 2,465 objects over 4.5 pounds that are currently being tracked through LEO.

Once EDDE has a piece of space junk cornered, it can either hurl it into the South Pacific where it has little chance of doing any harm, or put it on a trajectory to burn up during re-entry. Or, Star insists, the pieces of junk could be recycled right there in space to create raw materials for the construction of future orbiting space stations or satellites.

It sounds pretty out there, but Star has already begun testing the tech and should conduct a test flight in 2013. If that succeeds, EDDEs could begin a full cleanup operation in LEO by 2017.



  1. From what I've read there's a lot of crap up there that needs scooping up and this sounds far easier than having convicts in space-suits using sticks and garbage bags,

  2. I have wondered about the effects of space junk, even before Devo's wonderful song about its menance. To me, it is plausible that having all those items orbiting above is a risk not only to future satellites but to humans on earth.

    Also as mad as this may sounds, to me it is plausible that having all that stuff in low earth orbit also effects the ozone layer 'from the other side', away from the depletion that is taking place here on Earth.

  3. I see a new friend for WALL-E!

  4. Is Star Inc. publicly traded? I'm calling my broker.

    And I just realized that I spent my entire childhood on a planet without space junk. Mine will be the last generation to be able to say that. Given what's happened to our retirement plans, we'll take all the compensation we can find.

  5. Where in the South Pacific? I don't like the idea of all that junk coming back to Earth. Now if it could burn up before it got here... then we're talking.

  6. I agree with TARYTERRE. I hope they rethink that. But great post.


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