Ultra-thin spacecraft to feed on space waste

NASA funded ultra-thin spacecraft termed as " Brane Craft" to capture the space wastes or debris and ignite them while returning back to Earth.

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Aerospace Corporation, the US Government funded research and development center in El Segundo, California, is doing a research for destructing space junks with their newly developed "Brane Craft". NASA funded space craft is supposed to be a solution to wipe off Space wastes or debris which orbits the Earth.

The Brane Craft is designed to wrap orbiting debris and drag it back to the Earth's atmosphere while burning it. The craft would be a yard wide, flexible and less than half the thickness of human hair.

"It has to be bullet-proof because a 5-micron diameter particle can penetrate the main structural sheet, which is only 10 microns thick" said Siegfried Janson, principal investigator and senior scientist at Aerospace Corporation in his interview to Space.com

The spacecraft is designed with special care to cope up with any setbacks. The ultrathin solar cells are made in such a way that it will not fail entirely even if it is hit by a meteorite. Any malfunctioning solar cell will not affect the function of other power cells. Every other part of the space vehicle functions in a way to provide sufficient backup.

The propellant tank or fuel tank is also made of multiple segments which are located between two thin sheets. Its function will remain intact even if any segment is damaged by micro meteorite strike or affected by technical error.

The craft is meant to be cost efficient. It will be thin, but capable enough to face radiation which can damage the electronic equipments of the vehicle. Tolerance to radiation is of prime focus while developing the "enveloping spacecraft". It will also be light in weight and shall consume less fuel.

The company plans to send multiple Brane crafts at the same time, which will burn the junks while returning to the Earth's atmosphere. The frequency of the launch is believed to decrease the costs.

The official sources said that orbital debris have been accumulating over the years. Each launch increases the accumulated junk. At least 500,000 pieces of debris are circling Earth, which is hazardous for the newly launched space crafts and satellites as well as for astronauts.

It is common for the space craft and non-functioning space mission wastes to collide in space to cause the formation of debris. The collision of Iridium 33 and Kosmos 2251 satellites created huge amount of debris in space. The International Space Station shifts its orbits occasionally to avoid space debris.The project received its second round funding from NASA's Innovative Advanced Concepts program, which funds ideas taking years to launch.

Related topics : Nasa