GordonCopestake writes "An article from New Scientist proposes that all new spacecraft have sails attached to bring them back to earth — a measure that would reduce the amount of garbage in space. From the article: 'The risk to spacecraft from a collision with space debris could be reduced by equipping launchers with a gossamer-thin "sail." The idea is to deploy the sail after the rocket has released its payload to amplify the drag of the last vestiges of the atmosphere, and so force the rocket out of orbit.'" Wired has a related story about the risks faced by the space shuttles as they share orbits with tons of drifting space debris. "... in the 54 missions from STS-50 through STS-114, space junk and meteoroids hit shuttle windows 1,634 times necessitating 92 window replacements. In addition, the shuttle's radiator was hit 317 times, actually causing holes in the radiator's facesheet 53 times."
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