Researchers at the Research-and-Production Corporation Precision Systems, a sub-division of Russian space agency Roscosmos, have revealed that they are planning to build a gigantic laser cannon which will be used to target and shoot down the space debris cluttering around Earth. The laser cannon is going to be roughly 3 meters long.
NASA has estimated that there could be around 500,000 pieces of space debris traveling at speeds up to 17,500 miles per hour. Around 20,000 pieces of space debris are larger than the size of a softball, big enough to pose a threat to the orbiting spacecraft or satellites.
The Scientific and Industrial Corporation ‘Precision Instrument Systems’ (NPK SPP) research team have already started work on the laser cannon. They want to convert a telescope at the Altay Optical-Laser Centre (AOLTs) near Savvushka, some 45-miles (70 km) from the Kazak border, into a giant laser canon if the project gets a green light.
“The scientists intend to use the massive soon-to-be-built telescope at the Altay Optical-Laser Centre and convert it into laser cannon,” a report submitted to the Russian Academy of Sciences reads. “The device is expected to be powered by a solid-state generator, though the project team has yet to choose which model to use.”
As per the report, the research team will install a transmit/receive adaptive optic detection system into the cannon. The laser weapon will use the laser ablation process to shoot down any unwanted orbiting space junk. It will heat up the space debris with a beam, vaporize it and finally evaporate it.
Notably, as more and more countries travel into space, the amount of debris continues to get worse. The accumulation of space debris is indeed a growing threat that needs immediate attention. Back in January 2018, China also revealed its plans to use lasers to neutralize the space junk risk.