U.S. Military looking to the sky for its next recycling program.
The U.S. military is always looking for new and ingenious ways of reusing its waste, and it believes that its next recycling program will take place 25,000 miles above our heads. According to WFMZ.com, the research and development branch of the military has started the Phoenix program. This initiative will find a way to reuse the parts of hundreds of out-of-commission satellites that are still in orbit by incorporating them into new satellites. In essence, the military wants to turn outer space into a bit of a chop shop, where new satellites can be launched without major components and can be assembled later while they're in orbit.
"The Phoenix demonstration is tackling the very hard activities and technologies required to 'reuse' an existing on-orbit component, which now exists as a non-functional entity as it is retired," David Barnhart, the program manager for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, told the news source. "The techniques demonstrated will allow for the possibility of future satellites being launched that can take advantage of previously launched satellite components."
The main incentive behind the project is launch expenses. It costs the Defense Department significant amounts of money to launch new satellites, which are driven by weight and volume of antennas. By being able to gather some of these critical components from satellites that would be defunct otherwise, the Department of Defense can reduce its costs significantly and avoid having many of these expensive parts break up in the atmosphere.
As of now, the project is still in the planning phases and the agency will begin work in 2012. They are slated to have a full demonstration of the new satellite recycling technology as soon as 2015.