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This rocket promises to reduce debris in space

This rocket promises to reduce debris in space

Space debris is accumulating above our heads, and relaunching space invasion will only exacerbate the problem in the years and decades to come. Debris increases the risk of dangerous collisions, and scientists have been thinking for several years about solutions to prevent space from turning into a giant trash can.

In Scotland, British scientists unveiled a unique prototype of a self-powered missile. This spacecraft could revolutionize small satellite launches by making the process more economical and reducing space debris. This reactor was named Ouroboros-3 after the ancient mythical creature that devours itself. This reactor was developed by a team of researchers from…University of Glasgow.

An 86 year old concept!

He is in Orlando (Florida), where the show is being held this week IAA ScitechThese engineers commented on a video clip, where we see the rocket engine burning, and its structure is gradually destroyed. Self-destruct stops when there is no more fuel.

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What is undoubtedly more curious is that this concept has been around since the 1930s, specifically 1938! To update this idea, researchers from the University of Glasgow first collaborated with their counterparts from Dnipro National University (Ukraine). Everyone then chose their own solution, and on the Scottish side, they chose gaseous oxygen and liquid propane as the fuel in their engine.

A lighter and smaller missile

As the video above shows, when the engine heats up, it melts the rocket's body, which is made of plastic tube, and consumes it as well. Plastic combustion provides the rocket with a fuel surplus of 5 to 16%. This means the rocket can be lighter at launch, to provide more space for payloads, such as a satellite.

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At the helm of the development of the Ouroboros-3 engine, Professor Patrick Harkness It is noteworthy that the traditional structure of the missile represents between 5 and 12% of its total mass. Tests showed that Ouroboros-3 could consume a similar amount of its structural mass, opening promising prospects for future rocket designs.

Supported by the British Space Agency

Thus, by burning most of its structure, this missile generates less debris than conventional models. Moreover, this technology could allow the creation of smaller rockets, adapted to small satellites, which are currently forced to be grafted onto larger missions. Tests, conducted at McErihanish Air Force Base in Scotland, proved that the missile can generate a thrust of 100 Newtons.

Researchers are already working on a later, more powerful model. Good news, the UK Space Agency and the UK Science and Technology Facilities Board have released funds for their future work.