Ultrathin "blanket" spacecraft could someday wrap up dangerous space junk for destruction


#1

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2017/09/14/ultrathin-blanket-spacecra.html


#2

Since middle school I’ve been pretty sure the ship would look like this:


#3

Capitol Technology University’s TRAPSAT - recently merged into their CACTUS-1 dual-mission cubesat - will actually trap space debris for study rather than simply burning it up on re-entry.

The preliminary testing (done by high altitude balloon release I think?) has already attracted some attention simply by accidentally capturing high-altitude dust particles that surprised atmospheric scientists.

These trapsat pages are old, but the project is still alive and kicking.
https://www.capitol-college.edu/trapsat
https://www.captechu.edu/news-events/news-headlines/1819
https://www.capitol-college.edu/node/2069


#4

So… it’s a space blanket?


#5

I know it’s supposed to burn up and all that but couldn’t they have made it a little cuter?


#6

Sure, ultra thin space trash bag blanket but, will the drawstring hold when pulled on?

SpaceTrash

Because nobody can hear you scream in space.


#7

It’s weird that there’s technology to clean up space but, apparently, not the oceans…


#8

put it all on lunar surface for re use…!!


#9

“bulletproof blanket, … thinner than a human hair” - Shouldn’t we be making armour out of this stuff?


#10

someone has theorized a potential way to maybe clean up space junk (if it gets funded and if it works and if they can make something that is this strong/thin/light). I am willing to bet that ocean cleaning technology is at least that far along


#11

Ideally you’d want to keep it in orbit to recycle all those expensive materials that we spent so much fuel to put up there.


#12

and or grind it up to dust-speck size and use if for reaction mass…


#13

If the space plaid is not strong enough or fails do you end up with more space junk ?
I guess the risk/benefit ratio can be tricky on this project.


#14

#15

True, but unfortunately it’s going to take more energy and fuel to gather it up than it would take to launch an equivalent mass of useful objects.


#16

Aside from the incentive to just pretend that it is somebody else’s problem; the oceans have the tricky complication of having a great deal of desirable life mixed in with the trash.

If you just want to remove all the solid objects from a volume of water; anyone involved in net-based fishing could help you out(though you might need a net fine enough that nobody would admit to owning one on the record); but you would probably be unhappy about the ratio of recovered plastic to dead fish. In space, there’s mostly nothing; a comparatively modest number of satellites people care about in known locations; but not many endangered celestial cod to worry about(and the magnetosphere discourages solar anchovies).


#17

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