CubeSail parachute to drag old satellites from orbit, keep atmospheric roads clear

It's not something laypeople think about very often (space debris, for those wondering), but it's clearly on the minds of boffins at the University of Surrey. Over the years, the amount of defunct equipment hovering around beyond our view has increased significantly, with some reports suggesting that over 5,500 tonnes of exhausted kit is currently hanging around somewhere up there as a result of "abandoning spacecraft." In order to prevent the problem from growing (and to possibly reverse some of the damage), the CubeSail has been created. Put simply (or as simply as possible), this here parachute could be remotely deployed once a satellite had accomplished what it set out to do, essentially dragging it back through a fiery re-entry that it would never survive and clearing out the orbital pathway that it was using. We're told that it'll be ready for deployment in late 2011, but for now you can check out an all-too-brief demonstration vid just beyond the break.

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