On October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union Baikonur space center had a fine day. A large rocket stands on the satellite tower. A spherical sputnik-1 satellite with four folded rod antennas is mounted on the head of the rocket. With a loud noise of the rocket engine, the rocket soared and disappeared in less than two minutes.
This is the first man-made satellite launched after mankind entered the era of science and technology. Its success marks that mankind is marching forward into space and ushers in the era of space exploration. Soon afterwards, the United States also launched its own man-made satellites. With the continuous development of science and technology, more and more man-made satellites have been launched into space. According to the statistics of scientists, since 1957, man has launched about 6600 natural satellites into space.
Of course, this is just a conservative data. The actual number of satellites is larger than this, because there will be some secret launch missions all over the world, which is difficult for the outside world to know. Of the 6600 satellites, only about 1000 are still working, and the rest are basically space junk.
Since human beings began to go into space, a new word has appeared, it is space garbage. So what is space junk? The so-called space garbage refers to the man-made useless objects moving around the earth orbit, also known as space debris or orbital debris. It is the man-made objects in the space except the working spacecraft, including the debris generated in the launch process of launch vehicles and spacecraft, the discarded satellites, the shedding of spacecraft surface materials, the paint patches from the aging surface coating, and the space debris Solid and liquid materials leaked from spacecraft; fragments produced in the process of rocket and spacecraft explosion and collision.
At the beginning, when there was little space garbage, people didn’t feel that there was any risk. After all, the space outside the earth was very vast. However, with the continuous increase of space waste, risks begin to emerge. According to the current estimates of scientists, there are more than 170 million pieces of space waste in earth orbit, with a total weight of more than 4500 tons.
Most of these space debris are small debris with a diameter of less than 30 cm. Although they are very small, because they are moving at a high speed around the earth orbit, the speed reaches 7.9 kilometers per second. This speed is 10 times faster than that of ordinary bullets. As we all know, the faster an object’s speed is, the greater the kinetic energy it produces. Once it collides with other objects, the greater the destructive force it produces.
When an ordinary bullet hits an object, it will cause certain damage. However, these space garbage in the earth orbit are equivalent to super bullets, and the destructive power generated is 10 times that of ordinary bullets. Once it collides with a satellite or spacecraft, it is possible to destroy the satellite or spacecraft. Therefore, the serious potential threat of space waste should be taken into account when launching satellites or spacecraft.
In recent years, there are more and more space waste, and satellite launches and spaceships around the world are more and more affected. The threat of space waste has attracted the attention of all countries in the world. Although these space debris fall into the atmosphere, the end result is first into a meteor, and then into ashes, will not pose any threat to life on earth. However, the increasing space debris brings considerable risks to spacecraft in earth orbit.
NASA has said that there are more than 170 million pieces of man-made space debris in earth orbit, but only 22000 large space debris are tracked by us. Hundreds of millions of other space debris are in an unmonitored state. They are the irregular super bullets of satellites, space stations and spacecraft. Maybe a small space debris will hit satellites, space stations or spacecraft at any time.
If the manned spacecraft is accidentally hit by space garbage after entering the earth orbit, it may threaten the life safety of astronauts. Therefore, scientists now pay more and more attention to space waste, and start to explore whether they can be recycled. However, with the current technology of human beings, it is very difficult to recycle space garbage.
Some people may say that space garbage is so small that it should not be difficult to recycle, right? But in fact, it is extremely difficult to recycle the space garbage. The reason is that the space garbage is not static, but in the high-speed movement of 7.9 kilometers per second. If the spaceship is used to recycle the space debris, the speed of the spaceship must be synchronized with the speed of the space debris. In this way, the space debris in a relatively static state, and then through the capture work to pull the space debris back to the spacecraft to complete the recovery.
The principle is very simple, but it is a huge test for human science and technology to synchronize the speed of spaceship with space garbage in space, and there are more and more space garbage in earth orbit. The risk of spaceship moving at such a high speed in this orbit is huge. Therefore, the spacecraft must stay away from space garbage in order to synchronize its speed.
The spacecraft is far away from space debris. Although the safety factor has been improved a lot, it is more difficult to capture space debris. The flying claws need to be longer, and the accuracy will be reduced a lot. Therefore, the principle of recycling space waste is not complicated, but it is very difficult to implement it. This is why human beings now know that there are so many space waste in earth orbit, which will seriously threaten satellites, spacecraft and space stations, but they have not taken recycling measures.
Only when human science and technology go further, with more advanced space technology, can we really start recycling these space wastes. In the future, space waste will become a thing of the past. There will not be so much space waste in earth orbit, and most of it will be recycled. Of course, the future of science and technology is also relatively small.
Now the main sources of space waste are satellites and rockets. In the future, with more powerful energy technology, spaceships can enter and leave the earth freely without rocket boost, and satellites are much more advanced than they are now. There is no need for such satellites in earth orbit, and only a few large satellites are needed to complete all kinds of work. Without a source of space junk, the earth’s orbit would be cleaner.
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