China Wants To Use Giant Lasers To Clean Up Space Junk
There are decades worth of space garbage spinning around this pale blue dot. The Chinese are looking to clear some of that trash with some big lasers. Yeah, you read that correctly. A new paper, titled Impacts of orbital elements of space-based laser station on small scale space debris removal, by researchers at the Air Force Engineering University in China, explains how space garbage can be lasered into tiny little pieces.
Space garbage is a big problem. Only a little rock of space junk can go through a spaceship and ruin everything. That’s why Star Trek has deflector dishes. You can’t travel faster-than-light without worrying about floating crap that will destroy the ship!
Since flying around and capturing space junk isn’t working, the Chinese have conducted research on cleaning up the orbit of the Earth with lasers.
“[The simulation] provides necessary theoretical basis for the deployment of space-based laser station and the further application of space debris removal by using space-based laser [sic],” the paper’s explains.
It’s a no joke scenario with space junk. Lockheed Martin in 2014 found that every day there were around 200 threats to orbiting satellites. Imagine if a few of those satellite went down? It could throw a wrench into global communications.
“Any of these debris has the potential for seriously disrupting or terminating the mission of operational spacecraft in low Earth orbit,” Nicholas Johnson, the chief scientist for Orbital Debris. “This satellite breakup represents the most prolific and serious fragmentation in the course of 50 years of space operations.”
Since China is a major contributor of space junk, it’s nice to see that they want to clean a bit of it up.
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Jeff Sorensen is an author, writer and occasional comedian living in Detroit, Michigan. You can look for more of his work on The Huffington Post, UPROXX, BGR and by just looking up his name.