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 ")

The Far Side Of The Moon, By NASA (2015) And By PAUL (1932)
"We had leisure to make a thorough observation of the hidden side of earth's satellite."

Sierra Space Inflatable LIFE Habitat Burst Pressure Test
'It was like being inside a balloon...' - Arthur C. Clarke, 1961.

Space-Based Solar Power A Priority - European Space Agency
'...vast man-made disk of metal set spinning about the sun to supply the Earth with power.'

Goldilocks Zones Found On The Moon
Hopefully, there are no Mynocks in shadowed lunar craters, chewing on the power cables of spacecraft...

 

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

The Far Side Of The Moon, By NASA (2015) And By PAUL (1932)
"We had leisure to make a thorough observation of the hidden side of earth's satellite."

LoadRunner Robot Works Alone, Or In A Group
'They marched in unison, seven of them...'

Sierra Space Inflatable LIFE Habitat Burst Pressure Test
'It was like being inside a balloon...'

Longest Immersed Tunnel Will Connect Denmark and Germany
'... iron tubes... the ends of the tubes were joined to each other...to preserve it from the action of the seawater.'

Alcohol-Sensing Cars - NTSB Catches Up With Philip K. Dick (1963)
'Mr. Garden, you are in no condition to drive....'

Solar-Powered Remote-Control Cockroaches!
'A cable, here, from the controller to the interface plug... wires from that to the brain.'

SolarBotanic Tree For Solar Energy - Would You Need A Forest, Or Just One?
'The slender stalks of a sunshade-photocell collector...'

Metaverse Hardware - Run And Flail Like A Maniac, Or Lie Quietly?
'Holodeck 4 was waiting to be programmed...'

Robot Food Delivery Coming To Campus Near You
'... he rewired the delivery robot so that it would serve him midnight snacks.'

Are Craiyon Images Puddinged, ala Philip K. Dick?
'I stood in line for half an hour for this, and it's just a blob!'

Hip'Safe Airbag For Seniors, From Helite
'Other airbags go off around her torso and pelvis...'

Soulaje Self-Administered Euthanasia Wearable Prototype
'A young man... advanced with nervous strides along the gravel path which leads to the bronze doors of the Lethal Chamber.'

Midjourney AI Creates 'Théâtre D'opéra Spatial', Wins Art Fair First Prize
'... we'll give him in his brain what he needs for creation.'

Mobot Robot Tests Smartphone Apps With Its Finger
'Rapidly, purposefully, the metallic fingers moved over the key-boards...'

Space-Based Solar Power A Priority - European Space Agency
'...vast man-made disk of metal set spinning about the sun to supply the Earth with power.'

Goldilocks Zones Found On The Moon
Hopefully, there are no Mynocks in shadowed lunar craters, chewing on the power cables of spacecraft...

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.