Science Fiction Dictionary
A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z

 

Making A Living From Space Junk

In an unusual act of generosity, the Soviet space program has been showering valuable metal scraps on the villages surrounding the Plesetsk Cosmodrome for more than forty years. Over the years, more than 1500 launches have been performed with a success rate of over 98%. The cosmodrome includes 9 launch pads for Soyuz, Molniya, Cosmos-3M, Cyclone-3, Rockot launch vehicles, as well as a variety of assembly/testing facilities, telemetry and tracking stations.


(From Plesetsk Cosmodrome layout)

Tons of "cosmic garbage" - mostly first stages jettisoned from Soyuz carrier rockets - have provided a vital economic boost to the impoverished villages surrounding the cosmodrome, including the main local town Mirny ("Peaceful"). As a suspected ICBM site, Plesetsk was a primary surveillance target on the flight plan for Gary Power's ill-fated reconnaissance flight on May 1, 1960.

Local adminstrators notify the citizenry several days prior to each launch; all "hunters, mushroom pickers, fishermen and reindeer breeders" are strongly advised to leave the dangerous area (yes, that's a quote). Within days, however, scores of local residents go looking for valuable spoils, including "little-damaged Soyuz first stages. Souyz carrier rockets are propelled by kerosene and oxygen, and their parts have a reputation for safety. Older Tsiklon and Rokot carriers propelled by poisonous heptyl leave scraps that people avoid for the time being. 'Self-cleaning', as locals put it, is just a matter of years for them, after which the metals are considered safe to extract."

Less damaged parts may be put to use in households; electric batteries are connected to lamps, sheets of stainless alloys are used to build basements, garages, and even long canoe-like boats.

Science fiction authors have long used the space junk idea. In his 1956 masterpiece The Stars My Destination, Alfred Bester writes about the Sargasso Asteroid, an artificial planetoid built from space debris and abandoned space ships:

In rapid succession, Foyle was borne through an ancient Ganymede scow, a Lassell ice borer, a captain's barge, a Calisto heavy cruiser, a twenty-second-century fuel transport with glass tanks still filled with smoky rocket fuel...
(Read more about the Sargasso Asteroid)

In Footfall, Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle make good use of scrap rockets right here on Earth. Ray Bradbury wrote a very touching short story about a father who cobbles together a "space ship" from junk to give his children the vacation of a lifetime.


("I'm Toydarian - Jedi mind tricks don't work on me... only money")

And of course, one of my favorite Star Wars characters, Watto, is also a space junk dealer, offering robots and assorted second-hand space craft parts.

Read the press release at RIA Novosti. You might also be interested in this SF in the News story - Terminator Tether - EDT Solution to Space Debris - regarding space junk that makes it all the way up to orbit.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 5/18/2005)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 1 )

Related News Stories - (" Space Tech ")

NASA Wants Self-Driving Or Remote-Controlled Vehicles For Lunar Astronauts
'THE autobus turned silently down the wide street of Hydropole. Robot-guided, insulated from noise and cold...'

Orbital Mechanics, The Liftoff, The Turnover, The Retrograde Burn
'...the huge vessel had spun, with a sickening lurch, through a complete half-circle, the instant the power was reversed.' - EE 'Doc' Smith, 1928.

Can A Human Land A SpaceX Rocket On Its Tail?
'If she starts to roll sideways — blooey! The underjets only hold you up when they’re pointing down, you know.' - Stanley G. Weinbaum, 1936.

First Ever Proof Of Water On Asteroids
'Yes, strangely enough there was still sufficient water beneath the surface of Vesta.' - Raymond Z. Gallun, 1951.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

Science Fiction Timeline
1600-1899
1900-1939
1940's   1950's
1960's   1970's
1980's   1990's
2000's   2010's

Current News

Vast Apartment Living Will Get Even More Vast
'What is your population', I asked. 'About eighty millions.'

NASA Wants Self-Driving Or Remote-Controlled Vehicles For Lunar Astronauts
'THE autobus turned silently down the wide street of Hydropole. Robot-guided, insulated from noise and cold...'

Elon Musk Says Robotaxis Will Be Ready This August, 2024
'The car had no steering wheel, and no one drove!'

Moonwalkers AI-Controlled Electric Shoes
Now that's power walking that Hugo Gernsback would have approved.

Steve Jobs: 'Capture The Next Aristotle - With AI'
'It was disturbing to think of the Flatline as a construct...'

No Tips! Robotic Food Delivery In Phoenix
'...he rewired the delivery robot so that it would serve him midnight snacks.'

Electric Catamaran 'Explorer Eco 40m' Has 'Solar Skin'
'On went the electric-yacht faster and still faster.'

Orbital Mechanics, The Liftoff, The Turnover, The Retrograde Burn
'...the huge vessel had spun, with a sickening lurch, through a complete half-circle, the instant the power was reversed.'

Harvest Power From Tears And Blinking With Smart Contact Lens
'...he realized that it was not quite a clear lens. Speckles of colored brightness swirled and gathered in it.'

Europa Clipper Plate Carries A Special Message
'...a universal cryptogram — yet it is one which can be interpreted by any intelligent creature on any planet in the Solar System!'

Micro-Robots Are Smallest, Fully Functional
'With a whir, the Scarab shot from the concealing shadows of the corner where it had hidden itself.'

AI Enhances Images Your Brain Sees
'I could have sworn the psychomat showed pictures almost as sharp and detailed as reality itself'

Illustrating Classic Heinlein With AI
'Stasis, cold sleep, hibernation, hypothermia, reduced metabolism, call it what you will - the logistics-medicine research teams had found a way to stack people like cordwood and use them when needed.'

Deflector Plasma Screen For Drones ala Star Wars
'If the enemy persists in attacking or even intensifies their power, the density of the plasma in space will suddenly increase, causing it to reflect most of the incoming energy like a mirror.'

DIY Robotic Hand Made After Loss Of Fingers
'I made them... with the fine work of the watchmaker...'

Cheap Drunk Driver Detection From UofM
"Look, I can drive... Start, darn it!"

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.