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News Link • Space Travel and Exploration

Recycling Space Junk for Missions to Mars

• http://www.space.com, By Elizabeth Howell

NASA estimates that more than a half-million fragments are out there, occasionally posing threats to the International Space Station (ISS) or satellites. Collisions have happened before and will very likely happen again.

While space junk is a well-known problem, the ideas for dealing with it always run into one problem: economic support. That's why Tom Markusic, the CEO of space startup company Firefly Space Systems, proposes to recycle some of the dead space satellites for missions to Mars.

Upon realizing that nuts, bolts and electronics are all things that a Mars colony would need, Markusic proposes that spacecraft could tow the dead satellites out of Earth orbit using solar electric propelled tugs, to reduce fuel costs. These tugs would head over to Phobos, a moon of Mars, for humans to disassemble and use the raw materials. He estimates there are several hundred dead satellites he could use, already in space. As these space junk components are already in space, there's no launch costs associated with launching this material from the Earth's surface.

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