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Rent-an-Orbital Laser Broom

Clean the heavens.
  [vote for,

A laser broom is a space junk removal tool intended to destroy or deorbit space junk. Over the last 60 years Earth orbit has become cluttered with over a million individual pieces of trash all zooming around and occasionally into important things like communications satellites and the ISS. NASA has demonstrated that heating up one side of an item will alter its orbital path, moving it out of the way or destabilizing its orbit to burn up in the atmosphere (hopefully) or at least not land on anything terribly important.

Several such ideas have proposed planet- mounted devices to pulse-lase a particular piece of junk over a brief period to destabilize its orbital path. An orbital device however could utilize raw, unfiltered sunlight and could either share Earth’s solar orbital path to target objects as they come around in each rotation, or be placed in Earth orbit along the same general path as the bulk of the junk to be targeted. Overspray could be minimized by adjusting the targeting angle across the atmosphere; alternately the Earth, mostly water, should make a good backstop.

Now the idea: Brooms funded by a private company could be rented out for bit work. Should an aerospace company wish a particular orbit swept clear of trash for their upcoming launch they could simply pony up the cash and have ready a nice, glowing letter of thanks for a job well done. Several successful leases should cover annual operating costs and even the launches themselves.

A self-destruct mechanism could be fitted, though its use would partially recreate the original problem.
whatrock, May 14 2020

Missed it by that much. https://www.nydaily...lhsivolm-story.html
:holds fingers apart about an inch: [whatrock, May 14 2020]

If more is better then too much is just right https://theconversa...ite-launches-137572
[whatrock, May 14 2020]

Maybe we need satellites made from armor plating? https://futurism.co...ving-orbital-debris
[whatrock, May 14 2020]


       Because humans are human (it's a problem...), the first rental will be by one country's military to "clean up" the communications/spy satellites of some other country.
neutrinos_shadow, May 14 2020

       This is a problem?
whatrock, May 14 2020

       From the ground it wouldn't be possible: You'll almost always be pushing it radial out, and you'll never get it lower that way. From above you might de-orbit it, but then you might also melt off bits of shrapnel or even blow up the odd surviving tank or unstable hydrocarbon. I'm all for blowing things up[+] but not in a way that clutters near space even more [-]
Voice, May 15 2020

       I don't think space junk in one particular orbit is much of a problem. It is space junk that intersects the orbit of your satellite, which is essentially all the orbits that pass through your satellite's altitude. In other words, clearing all the potential space junk hazards to your satellite's orbit is impractical. Clearing space junk that is likely to impact your satellite in the near future is more feasible.
xaviergisz, May 15 2020

       [neutrinos shadow] I apologize for that flip answer.   

       With increasing amounts of orbital stuff comes more collisions and accidents, so a broom of some sort is needed. Using existing brooms would be easier than demanding that each aerospace nation develop and launch their own to police their own shit.

Your concern is certainly valid but as with nuclear weapons which are owned by some 35 countries now there is a strong urge to not use them lest they be used against you. So we rent what's there (hopefully), probably made by RockCo.
whatrock, May 15 2020

       What if we use nukes to break up any debris into smaller and smaller bits and then build spacecraft that can survive very small pieces?
Voice, May 15 2020


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