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13 September 2017


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We had one shuttle orbiter come back with a paint fleck (!) driven an appreciable way through a flight deck window. If I recall correctly, one early Air Force experimental payload, for testing radar reflections in orbit, was thousands upon thousands of needle shaped targets. Pieces of boosters, seals, explosive bolts, you name it, LEO is now a dirty place.


I agree, I think the residue and trash orbiting the Earth due to space exploration should be cleaned up. I'm glad that there is at least an operation plan and though is being put in. I hope to see more useful technology being created to clean up the atmosphere and environment.


What happens after the Brane Craft executes one piece of space junk? Does it have to be reconstructed or remade? Or does it retain its "integrity”?


It also can "clean" space of enemy spacecraft. Definitely good reason to go through.



Very small spacecraft for tiny grey beings? pl


Brilliant! Does it pick up dog hair?



I have reported you to EEO and antifa for racist bigotry against canine Americans. pl


That too :), but yard across is not too small for lots of space objects these days.
Comes to mind - if not navigable - what differs it from other junk floating up there? Kamikaze ability to "die" together with other objects?
(one more space freak :) )


It's alright sir, I'm a dog, too.



"On the internet nobody knows you are a dog." pl

r whitman

We need something to bring space junk back to earth to sell as souvenirs


The Biz Model is to make the owners of the platforms that generate debris be responsible for its clearing-out.

Obviously, most debris to-date have been the responsibility of national authorities. They must develop the standards, techniques & technologies for clearing the orbital highways & byways. This is the present stage (very early... "Innovative Adv. Concepts" ... a glorified thought-experiment) that the article describes. They then implement that solution to clean up the mess made over the past six decades. Bear in mind that while these systems will leverage technology & systems fielded for active space-based tactical operations, it won't simply be a tech-transfer project.

{In parallel is the investigation of designs / develop solutions that mitigate creation of debris in the first place... prevention is extremely cost-effective compared to consequence mgmt, especially in space operations.}

Secondly, the space commons cannot be treated as an open-loop trash dump. Part of the commercialization of space-based applications is to capture (pay-for) all attendant costs - or at least define what is to be captured by users and what is to be the responsibility of national & global authorities.

A useful analogy is our highway infrastructure. Governments provide the infrastructure, individual users are not to throw garbage from their vehicles, deposit blown-out exhaust systems & retreads in the road (though they do, of course). In space, garbage-men may finally get the respect ($) they deserve... as they become trained in operating robotic semi-autonomous systems (which are being deployed on Earth too).

If you prove viable solutions and require that the debris problem be addressed by all commercial users as a closed-loop plan in order to gain access, then this can be managed. But it won't be soon... much like the "anti-meteorite Earth defense system", only with more $ at stake.

different clue

We will also need a space junk cleaner for little space junk particles the size of a ball bearing or a bb or a grain of sand. Being hit by any one of these things at 20,000 miles per hour would put a destructo-hole in whatever got hit by it.

Something like a very huge spider-web sticky drift net to sweep up all little space junk particles before it should be invented. And then pulled back down when too full to gather up any more.

Sans racines

If someone gets me up there and gives me a rocket pack I'll sweep-up...

Babak Makkinejad

Just wait long enough and the orbits decay and the various pieces of junk will burn during re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere.


Love this and love all of the creativity that is out there to solve problems. Thanks for posting this!


just wait till we have a war with a country that has satellites, a few large rockets filled with gravel and low earth orbit is locked out for good, if not all further space travel.


Does a vacuum cleaner actually work in space? If so, instead of the Branecraft, shouldn't it be a Hoovercraft?

I'm here all week. Try the veal.

Tom Cafferty

The two leggeds use all their commons as dumping grounds. Plastic in water, plastic in fish, maybe we can eat the space debris.

dilbert dogbert

I have a couple of space souvenirs. An American flag and a piece of aluminum that went to the moon. That, a handshake and a pen are what you get on retirement from NASA.

Mark Logan


I suspect a similar amount of junk was created when the Chinese intentionally destroyed a couple of satellites a couple years ago. Testing some sort of anti-sat system, IIRC. Lotsa junk...but space is a big place.

Speaking of clearing out junk in space, I'd like to see an anti-asteroid system developed, something capable of at least busting up the biggies, which we are quite likely not to spot until they are fairly close.


We're on the same wavelength.

Peter in Toronto

The Chinese are the worst contributors to the orbital trash problem; they generated a few thousand pieces of debris alone after their orbital weapons tests a few years ago. Any more similar tests may deprive civilization from access to low orbit.

This is something I pondered a few times, glad to see there are some credible solutions.

Peter in Toronto

Speaking of which Colonel, you were nested fairly deep in the state security apparatus, have you come across any references to visitors?

Now I don't want your pension stripped, so you can respond on behalf of a "friend".. :D


I'd volunteer for Mars or even Betalguese, but they are not taking 74 year-olds. Besides no way I'm going to let them put me into one of those torpor pods, so will have to wait for Warp Drive.

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