According to a press release, the solution for the space debris issue will be a crowdfunded cubesat Mayak equipped with a special aerobraking system. The rocket Soyuz will take the satellite to the orbit in the second half of 2016.
Space debris is natural (meteoroid) and artificial (man-made) particles orbiting the Earth. Most decommissioned satellites become space junk for years and decades, preventing usage of orbits for commercial and governmental projects. Spacecrafts on low Earth orbit are affected by low-density atmosphere and slowly are running out of altitude.
Typical decay time for a 600 km (373 mi) orbit is years. On-board rocket engines can be used to speed up the process, but it is an unreliable and expensive solution.
Mayak will conduct orbital tests of deployable aerobraking device which will allow to significantly rise spacecraft drag and speed up decay. Aerobraking will allow to lower Mayak’s orbital time from year to just one month.
As the Mayak project is implemented by enthusiasts via crowdfunding, all project data (3D models, drawings, electrical schemes, source code, test programs and test results) will be published for open access.
Mayak has collected approx. $33 000 for testing via two Russian crowdfunding campaigns in 2014 and 2016. Roscosmos has authorized project access to the Soyuz-2 launch vehicle in summer-2016 as a part of the Kanopus-V-IK launch campaign.
The Mayak team started a new campaign on Kickstarter to raise money for manufacturing of a production unit.
Photos and videos are available here.
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