Even astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) have to take out the garbage. Traditionally, waste from the ISS is simply stored in a cargo spacecraft, which delivers provisions and equipment to astronauts, and then remains docked until it is filled with garbage. Then the cargo spacecraft is disconnected and sent to burn up in the atmosphere. Thus, without a spaceship, disposal becomes more complicated. But now the station crew has a new way to get rid of garbage — shoot them.
The new garbage disposal system uses an airlock called Bishop, which is part of a commercial module added to the station in 2020. Nanoracks, the company that built the module, together with Thales Alenia Space and Boeing monitored the release of debris from the airlock. The test conducted last week was recorded on video and sent to Nanoracks.
When the garbage leaves the airlock, it burns up in the atmosphere, so this does not exacerbate the problem of clogging the orbit. The garbage is placed in a special container that holds up to 270 kilograms of waste. Then it “shoots” towards the Earth, where it completely burns up in the upper atmosphere.
“Waste collection in space is a long-standing and intimate problem on board the ISS. Four astronauts generate up to 2,500 kg of garbage per year or about two garbage tanks per week. At a time when more and more people are living and working in space, this is a critical function,” said Cooper Reed, Bishop Airlock program manager at Nanoracks.
It is hoped that this method of garbage disposal will be more effective than the existing method. Now astronauts will not have to wait for the next cargo ship to load its waste.
Recall that astronauts in orbit age 20 years in six months.
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