Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Space Debris

PostedJuly 19, 2009

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Randy Atkins: Even a small object, racing through space at many miles a second, is a big danger.  Jim Hollopeter, an engineer at G-I-T Satellite, says putting the brakes on such debris would make it fall from the sky…and harmlessly burn up in the atmosphere.

Jim Hollopeter: The very small objects don’t take much to slow them down, but there’s nothing in orbit to slow them down at this point.

Randy Atkins: Hollopeter proposes launching rockets with payloads of water that can be blasted, shotgun style, to knock back lots of oncoming debris.  

Jim Hollopeter: It will then re-enter the atmosphere.  All of it will, including the water that we would disperse.

Randy Atkins: Hollopeter says old ballistic missiles could be used relatively inexpensively.  With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, 103 point 5 F-M and WTOP-dot-com.




  • Rockets such as the Black Brant might be used for Hollopeter's idea
  • NASA's Orbital Debris Program Office
  • The Center for Orbital and Reentry Debris Studies at The Aerospace Corporation