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

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

Popular on Engadget

Test shows dark mode really can save battery life on OLED iPhones

Test shows dark mode really can save battery life on OLED iPhones

View
Sonar drone helps find a WWII Japanese aircraft carrier

Sonar drone helps find a WWII Japanese aircraft carrier

View
Next-gen hearing implants could overcome inner ear damage

Next-gen hearing implants could overcome inner ear damage

View
Amazon sellers are shipping long-expired food

Amazon sellers are shipping long-expired food

View
Bungie pulls popular gun from 'Destiny 2' after discovering exploit

Bungie pulls popular gun from 'Destiny 2' after discovering exploit

View

From around the web

Page 1Page 1ear iconeye iconFill 23text filevr