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Space

The Space Garbage Scow, ala Cringely 221

An anonymous reader writes "Robert X. Cringely once again educates and amuses with his take on how we could clean up the garbage that's in orbit around Earth. I cannot vouch for his math, but it makes sense to me. Quoting: 'We’d start in a high orbit, above the space junk, because we could trade that altitude for speed as needed, simply by flying lower, trading potential energy for kinetic. Dragging the net behind a little unmanned spacecraft, my idea would be to go past each piece of junk in such a way that it not only lodges permanently in the net, but that doing so adds kinetic energy (hitting at shallow angles to essentially tack like a sailboat off the debris). But wait, there’s more! You not only have to try to get energy from each encounter, it helps if — like in a game of billiards or pool — each encounter results in an effective ricochet sending the net in the proper trajectory for its next encounter. Rinse and repeat 18,000 times.'"

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