Gassy outbursts from a suborbital rocket may be the cleanest way to get rid of hazardous space debris, suggests a new US patent application filed on 27 September by aerospace giant Boeing of Chicago.
Space junk – derelict rocket bodies, broken or used-up satellites and debris generated by their endless collisions – is becoming the scourge of the space age. Even tiny pieces can zip through metal at hypersonic speed, putting astronauts and spacecraft at risk.
After more than 50 years of space flight, so much litter has accumulated that some experts predict near-Earth space will become difficult to navigate by mid-century unless agencies start removing the mess.
Most space junk can burn up safely during re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere, but that means something needs to nudge it out of orbit. The trick is, how do you deliver an orbital clean-up crew without adding more rubbish?
So far, ideas for sweeping up near-Earth space include attaching sails to derelict satellites to slow them down, sending tentacled janitor robots to drag junk out of orbit or deploying enormous robot-pulled nets to trawl for debris.
One problem with nets, sails and janitor bots is that they need lofting on orbital rockets that themselves could leave behind space litter.
Boeing’s plan suggests sending up a rocket carrying a tank of a cryogenic inert gas such as xenon or krypton. At the top of a trajectory designed to intercept a swarm of space junk, the rocket would vaporise its payload and “fire” up to 10 tonnes of gas through a special nozzle.
This cloud would dissipate in seconds, but its initial density would create enough drag to slow the debris, Boeing inventor Michael Dunn says in the patent.
Dunn has calculated that for an object moving at about 7.8 kilometres per second, the gas cloud could reduce orbital velocity by 0.2 kilometres per second – enough to condemn it to fiery incandescence in the upper atmosphere.
This rocket may best be used below the 100-kilometre Karman line, which by convention defines the edge of space. At that height, the rocket could shoot its debris-braking cloud much further – up to altitudes of 600 kilometres – and then simply drop back to Earth.
Required Skills: No previous background in programming or electronics required
Required Materials: Bring your own laptop + some e-waste (old printer, scanner, old home phone, electronic toy, obsolete audio / video equipment…)
Location: Science Gallery, Trinity College Dublin
During openhere the e-waste workshop will focus on hacking and interconnecting obsolete devices by repurposing cheap WiFi routers. Our workshops offer participants a chance to become familiar with basic hardware and software design, while at the same time gaining hands-on experience making an interactive art project. The workshops are open to participants of different backgrounds, and no programming or electronic skills are required. The idea is to start from scratch and create a complete project by the end of the workshop, including concept, design, electronics / interfacing, and functional programming.
Deconstructing readily-available, cheap electronic devices into interactive tools is more than a lot of fun; the process offers the same visible, hands-on learning and understanding acquired through dissection. By re-purposing second-hand hardware or cheap toys, a commercial, mass-produced product is transformed into a unique device, with potential for new and original means of expression or communication. The boundaries of a device are set by the manufacturer (planned obsolescence); those limits can be redefined by such creative recycling.
We live in a disposable society. This is most prevalent in large parts of the telecommunications industry. Mobile phones, communication devices, game consoles and PCs have short lifespans. Consumers expect ever-greater functionality from the next generation of each device. Moore’s Law dictates that the complexity of computer chips doubles every 18 months. This causes a rapid decrease in the value of existing electronics. Thus, the dark side of technological progress is the production of endless amounts of electronic waste: e-waste. Although the economic value of obsolete electronics approaches zero, the electronic components themselves can still be useful in other contexts. Hence we need to seek ideas and inspiration for how we can rethink technology and, in particular, communications and ICTs, from sources that are outside traditional engineering domains.
Visit the openhere festival website to regsister →
Via, www.designandenvironment.co.uk. Written by Marente January 27th, 2011
Last week we had an amazing two-day workshop, working with and recycling electronic waste into new forms. Guest lecturers and designers Benjamin Gaulon and Brian Solon were really patient with us and totally rocked the classroom!
The workshop was a lot of fun! Not only did we get to take products apart (what’s better than that?), we learned how to use basic Arduino, start programming ourselves and give electronic waste a new life.
Marcela Teran, Elvira Grob and I hacked an old analog phone (with a lot of help from Benjamin, thanks!). The numbers were individually linked to different songs and when you’d dial a set of numbers you’d get this crazy musical mix.
This link will show a video of the hacked phone:
Worskhop tutors: Benjamin Gaulon and Lourens Rozema
All Out Design 5 Sarsfield Street
10 am Wednesday 15th – 5pm Thursday 16th September
Limited to 10 participants
Skill level: Beginners
Using e-waste as raw material, this workshop offer participants to become familiar with basic hardware and software hacking / recycling while at the same time gaining hands-on experience making an interactive art project.
This workshop is open to participants of different backgrounds and no programming or electronic skills are required. The idea is to start from scratch and create a complete project over a short time, including concept, design, electronics / interfacing, and functional programming with Arduino, Max/Msp, Pure Data or Processing.
In this workshop participants will deconstruct readily-available, cheap electronic devices into interactive tools is more than a lot of fun; the process offers the same visible, hands-on learning and understanding acquired through dissection. By re-purposing second-hand hardware or cheap toys, a commercial, mass-produced product is transformed into a unique device, with potential for new and original means of expression or communication. The objects produced in this workshop will be exhibited as part of the Tweak exhibition in the Church Gallery Space in LSAD.
Info and Booking: http://www.tweak.ie/workshop.html