Every year, space junk becomes a bigger problem. We saw the International Space Station dodging debris several times over the past few years, and we’ve seen more and more debris make its way back down through Earth’s atmosphere in uncontrolled descents. Now, scientists have come up with a novel way to cut down on space junk by using self-eating rockets.
Now, that sounds a little weird, I’ll admit. What exactly happens when a rocket consumes itself? What purpose does it serve beyond cleaning itself up? Researchers from Glasgow University have discovered that a rocket which can eat itself can reduce the amount of propellant needed to reach space.
It’s a novel approach to rockets that we haven’t seen highlighted so clearly before, and with the space race continuing in a somewhat different capacity than it did over 60 years ago, it’s good to see researchers and engineers coming up with these interesting and out-of-the-box ways to improve how we send things to space.
We’re already seeing a lot of cut-down on space junk thanks to the use of reusable boosters like SpaceX’s Falcon 9, but being able to have the rocket literally eat itself to fuel its ascent is another thing altogether. The group presented the design for its self-eating rocket at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics SciTech Forum in Orlando this past week.
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The design is based on an original idea patented in 1938. One of the leading researchers in the development told Gizmodo . that the concept is old but it’s the lack of business cases for small payloads and the complexity of design which has kept the idea from being more widely used.
Even though the concept is an old one, the idea of sending space payloads with rockets that eat their own plastic tubes for fuel, is still exciting.
The post This self-eating rocket could be a solution to space junk appeared first on BGR.