SOLID ROCKETS – ONE OF MANY SOLUTION OF REDUCING SPACE DEBRIS

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Space is seriously facing debris problem with so many satellites launch and debris floating in outer space in form of non- operational satellites and its parts. At present, more than 2000 satellites are orbiting in lower earth atmosphere. According to space.com, a leading outer space related website, almost 1500 satellites are scheduled to launch in space. This number however may be lower than the estimation given the ongoing pandemic situation which has forced space agencies and space companies to halt their regular operation and research. But no matter what number of space objects will launch in coming months and year, the problem remains same and grave and that is ‘SPACE DEBRIS’.

Our outer space is becoming big junk of space objects with very less efforts are being going on to either lessen it or remove debris from the earth. Almost every space organization is in testing stage to develop technique and instrument like satellite which can remove space objects which are floating around the lower earth orbit. USA’s space agency NASA has a separate department known as ARES is working towards tracking and mitigating space junk.  In 2019, European Space Agency green lit space debris mission ClearSpace-1 to remove an item an item of debris from space set to be launch in 2025. A Japanese Space Company Astroscale has begun constructing a prototype spacecraft ELSA-d which is planned to be launch in 2020 in space to remove dead satellites and pieces of dangerous space junk.

Recently, Los Alamos National Laboratory situated at New Mexico, USA has come up with their own plan on how to lessen space debris in future. According to its researchers, if  the launching organization or companies use solid rocket fuel instead which are high-thrust, safer and reasonable at costing and it also can be stored for long period of time. However, it has its own limitation. It cannot be restarted once launched and also its movement cannot be stopped. And so that’s where researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory have come up with breakthrough solution. They have recently developed the ability to stop and restart solid rocket motors numerous times from a single solid rockets in static test stands.[1] A payload is also being developed that will contain power separately from the satellite and will be equipped with  solid rocket system.

These solid rocket system and payload containing them shall play significant role in reducing space junk and for de-orbiting for years even after the satellites becomes non-functional.


[1] <https://www.space.com/restartable-solid-rocket-fuel-space-junk.html >

SPACE TOURISM- THE NEXT BIG TOURIST SPOT

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In the coming months, the world will witness another history making moment in outer space in the form of ‘space tourism’. Big space corporation like Space X, Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic etc. are all working tirelessly to launch manned trips to space in the second or third quarter of 2020 although it is more expensive for now with Richard Branson’s company charging $250,000 per trip to space trip. Yet in many ways, it is safe to say that ‘space tourism’ will be the next hot tourist spot and that too beyond earth.

Who would have thought twenty- thirty years back that the time to witness earth from space by human beings excluding astronauts shall become a reality soon all thanks to the big space players  who are not only working towards giving prospect customers experience of seeing earth from space but also aims to set up colonies on moon and other celestial bodies also to give more leisure experience to them latest by 2025. Bezos’s Blue Origin is preparing two rockets – New Glenn and New Shepard for the said purpose. Space X is focusing on lunar tourism and aims to send its 2 paid customers on a trip around the moon in 2021. It has also unveiled its starship MK1 prototype for reusable launch system capable of carrying people to moon, mars and even far ahead. Not only non- governmental players are taking interest in this area of space exploration, but the state players are also in partnership with private companies are eyeing to establish their presence in this sector. USA’s space agency NASA in June, 2019 at a news briefing declared that that NASA is opening the International Space Station (ISS) to space tourist from America on US owned commercial vehicle and will cost around $58 million.

Over the past 10-15 years, there have been tremendous development in the field of space exploration and technology not just by developed states but also by other countries like India, Brazil, Australia who are giving tough competition. Space tourism industry is proving profitable not only politically but also financially. This industry is being estimated to be worth of more than $1.18 billion according to (marketstudyreport.com) by 2024. This sector is proving to be giving investors best returns also. Richard Branson’s space company recently went public at New York Stock Exchange as a subsidiary under Social Capital Hedosophia Holdings (SCHH) and thus became first commercial spaceflight company to be listed on the stock market. According to its official website at the time of its merger with SCHH, it was valued at $1.5 billion.

Given the future potential of these companies along with other private space companies, it can be safe to assume that this sector is going to thrive at the same par with other sectors like IT and Airline sector and will be lucrative for investors and human race. It will be the next big spot for tourist, one that space nerd like me is eager to witness. So hop on the big space tourism plane and enjoy the ride.

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