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Laser broom

By Wikipedia,
the free encyclopedia,

A laser broom is a proposed ground-based laser beam-powered propulsion system whose purpose is to sweep space debris out of the path of the International Space Station.

It is designed to target debris between one and ten centimeters in diameter. Even small-sized debris can cause considerable damage in extremely high-speed collisions. The Space Shuttle routinely shows evidence of "tiny" impacts upon post-flight inspection.

Proposed initial trials will use low power because of concerns about inadvertently contravening the Outer Space Treaty, which bans laser weapons in space. The laser broom is intended to be used at high enough power to punch through the atmosphere with enough remaining power to ablate material from the debris for several minutes. This would provide thrust to alter its orbit, dropping the perigee into the upper atmosphere, increasing drag so that the debris would eventually burn up on reentry.

One laser broom project is named Project Orion, not to be confused with the spacecraft propulsion project named Project Orion or NASA's Orion spacecraft (or CEV).

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Text from Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License; additional terms may apply.

Published - July 2009

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