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15.10.09


http://soundofscience.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/gps_satellite_nasa_art-iif.jpgScientists at German Aerospace Centre have received a go ahead to develop robot that will clear out rogue satellites orbiting the Earth's orbit. This robot should be ready in four years, according to the Observer.

Last year it was reported that critical levels of debris circling the Earth were threatening astronauts' lives and the future of the multibillion-pound satellite communications industry. German scientists are gearing up for the crisis which will occur when satellites orbiting will run out of fuel in next five to 10 years. Their robots will dock with failing satellites to carry out repairs or push them into 'graveyard orbits', freeing vital space in geostationary orbit. This is the narrow band 22,000 miles above the Earth in which orbiting objects appear fixed at the same point. More than 200 dead satellites litter this orbit. Within 10 years that number could increase fivefold, the International Association for the Advancement of Space Safety has warned, according to The Guardian.


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Klaus Landzettel, head of space robotics at DLR, said engineering advances, including the development of machines that can withstand temperatures ranging from -170C (-274F) to 200C (392F), meant that the German robots will be "ready to be used on any satellite, whether it's designed to be docked or not".

There are many satellites which are specifically designed to dock with fuel injecting devices. In 2007, the U.S. Orbital Express project succeeded in refueling an orbiting satellite. But only few of

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