Chinese scientists have developed a giant sail that can be used to alter the orbit of idle rockets and satellites so they burn up in Earth’s atmosphere and not become space junk. .
According to the British newspaper “Daily Mail”, the debris burns inside the Earth’s atmosphere within a few years, and the sail was developed and successfully tested by the 805 Institute of the Shanghai Academy of Spacecraft Technology (SAST) in China.
The news comes after the British government announced last month that it wants to start processing millions of pieces of debris in Earth’s orbit.
This includes regulating commercial satellite launches, rewarding companies that reduce their footprint in Earth’s orbit, and allocating an additional £5m to space junk cleaning technologies.
The sail was tested by attaching it to the payload capsule of the 300 kg Long March-2D Y64 carrier rocket, which was launched into space on June 23, 2022.
The sail was also successfully launched into space three days later, according to the state-run Global Times, which spoke to SAST system engineers.
The space agency claims it is less than one-tenth the diameter of a hair, which means it can be installed on many spacecraft.
The sail uses the clouds formed by the thin atmosphere to slow the defunct spacecraft associated with it, enabling it to leave its original orbit and move into Earth’s atmosphere, where it burns up.
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