We’re all going through times when astronomers and other scientists are worried about space junk becoming more and more prevalent just a bit above the Earth’s atmosphere. And it’s understandable, considering that even a small portion of space debris can produce huge damage to a satellite, not to mention an astronaut.
But hopefully, not all junk that ends in space can pose a direct threat to satellites and astronauts. The International Space Station (ISS) has tested new safe disposal of space waste method that was developed by a Houston-based private company named Nanoracks. Therefore, dozens of kilograms of waste were dumped, including clothes, according to Newsweek.
Astronauts generate a lot of waste
The disposed waste by the ISS will safely re-enter the atmosphere of our planet. The new method is not too complicated, as it consists of a special waste container that’s attached to the Bishop Airlock of the space station. The container is released, and it re-enters the orbit while it’s burning up.
A large (~ 250 kg? ~1.5 metres) trash bag was ejected from the ISS Nanoracks Bishop Airlock at 0005 UTC Jul 3 in the first use of the new trash deployer system. It will probably be cataloged as 52952, 1998-067TP.
— Jonathan McDowell (@planet4589) July 3, 2022
Being an astronaut might be the best job in the world and beyond, but even they can generate waste.
Cooper Read, who is Bishop Airlock program manager at Nanoracks, stated:
Waste collection in space has been a long-standing, yet not as publicly discussed, challenge aboard the ISS,
Four astronauts can generate up to 2,500kg [5,510lbs] of trash per year, or about two trash cans per week. As we move into a time with more people living and working in space, this is a critical function just like it is for everyone at home.
Recently, Chinese astronomers have shown that it’s possible to remove space debris by using a drag sail.
Ultimately, we can look at the bright side since every cloud has a silver lining. If there wouldn’t have been space junk floating above our atmosphere, Chinese astronomers didn’t get to prove how efficient the drag sail is, so no pain no gain!