Latest in Science

Image credit:

UK engineers developing harpoon that could help space junk meet a fiery end

Alexis Santos
10.08.12
23 Shares
Share
Tweet
Share
Save

Sponsored Links

Sure, we can pull space junk out of orbit with lasers or use it to cobble together new satellites, but if engineers at space firm Astrium UK have their way, space trash could be disposed of with the help of harpoons. Currently in a conceptual stage, the system is designed to shoot defunct satellites or other debris with a harpoon mounted on a "chaser satellite" and use a tethered propulsion pack to send the rubbish in an atmospheric descent where it'll burn up. Since the projectile could shoot straight through targets and result in even more garbage, it's been fashioned with a crushable portion to reduce its speed upon impact. There's no concrete word on when the outfit's solution might be put in action, but they'll present their work on Wednesday at the 63rd International Astronautical Congress in Naples (Italy, not Florida, mind you). If you can't wait to see the harpoon at work, head past the break to catch tests of an Earth-based prototype.

Get Adobe Flash player

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Share
23 Shares
Share
Tweet
Share
Save

Popular on Engadget

The best consoles, games and accessories for students

The best consoles, games and accessories for students

View
Papercraft-inspired math turns any sheet into any shape

Papercraft-inspired math turns any sheet into any shape

View
DICE cancels 'Battlefield V' close combat mode to help its focus

DICE cancels 'Battlefield V' close combat mode to help its focus

View
Sony and Yamaha are making a self-driving cart for theme parks

Sony and Yamaha are making a self-driving cart for theme parks

View
Trump tries to overturn ruling stopping him from blocking Twitter users

Trump tries to overturn ruling stopping him from blocking Twitter users

View

From around the web

Page 1Page 1ear iconeye iconFill 23text filevr