MOSCOW, March 27. /TASS/. A space ‘hunter’ for decommissioned satellites will be able to recycle up to 500 kg of space junk at a time while the system itself will weigh about 2.5 tonnes, Russian Space Systems (RSS) said in a press release circulated on Wednesday.
"According to the calculations, the system will weigh about 2.5 tonnes. Over one cycle (grabbing, grinding and recycling), it will be able to recycle up to 500 kg of junk," the statement says.
The recycling system will search for space junk "using the data of Russian and international catalogues of space objects," according to the statement.
Initially, the ‘satellite hunter’ is expected to be launched to an altitude of 400 km to do without a booster to save funds. At the same time, the space system’s target orbit will be 800-1,500 km, the statement says.
The project’s author, Researcher-Engineer at Russian Space Systems Maria Barkova noted that "the system will act as a predator hunting for junk to get extra energy."
Barkova told TASS earlier on Wednesday that the project of the space junk recycling system was estimated at about 7.5 billion rubles ($117 million). She also noted that the space junk collector consisted of a trap with titanium nets and the recycling system. After a decommissioned satellite gets into the trap, it undergoes the stage of its recycling inside the system through a grinder and a special mill. An old satellite ground into metal powder will be mixed with oxygen and hydrogen and turned into fuel that will be used in the recycling system’s engines to make maneuvers and approach the next satellite with its used-up service life.