ESA’s e.Deorbit: Cleaning up the mess

ESA is planning to launch a satellite in January of 2023 which will demonstrate technology capable of clearing space debris from Low Earth Orbit.

NASA and other agencies track more than 500,000 pieces of debris, over 20,000 of which are larger than a softball.

The inset pic shows one of those “larger than a softball” items: it’s the spent upper stage of a Delta II rocket.Delta-II_Stage2_XSS-10

ESA provided this perspective about debris:

“Around 5000 space launches since 1957 have led to an orbiting population of more than 22 000 trackable objects larger than a coffee cup. Only about 1100 of these are working satellites – the other 95% are space debris.”

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ESA’s AIM: Observing an asteroid’s deflection

Just after 7:00 AM local time on the morning of June 17, 1908 most scientists believe that a 125 foot wide 225 million pound meteor exploded over an impossibly remote area of north central Russia.

The blast was felt one thousand miles away. The blast caused barometric pressure fluctuations as far away as Great Britain and the clouds which formed after the blast reflected light in the night sky for a few days.

This was the Tunguska Event so named because of the Stony Tunguska River over which the blast occurred. Estimates of the force of the blast vary and have tended to lessen over the years. Most recent opinions place the force at 3 to 5 megatons, or anywhere from 3,000 to 5,000 times the size of the bomb used at Hiroshima.

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ESA: Astronauts to become Village People

Johann-Dietrich Werner, Director General of the European Space Agency, is calling for the construction of a permanent base on the Moon by the year 2030. The ESA held the International Symposium On The Moon 2020-2030 in Amsterdam in December 2015. Participants included people from ESA, academia and industry.

The case for a moon village is compelling. NASA estimates that using a village on the moon to launch a manned mission to Mars would reduce the amount of weight needed to be lifted from the Earth by 68%. The annual savings to the U.S. space program using this approach has been estimated at $10 billion per year.

Dr. Dietrich would like to see an international effort made to build the village in the same way that the International Space Station was built. Construction could begin in the early 2020’s with the landing of robots equipped with 3D printers to construct a few structures from resources found on the Moon.
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