Home » 78 Kilograms of Waste From the International Space Station Successfully Expelled by Nanoracks

78 Kilograms of Waste From the International Space Station Successfully Expelled by Nanoracks

by Coffee Table Science

Image: The Nanoracks system uses a special airlock dispenser-Nanoracks

Together with NASA’s Johnson Space Center, Nanoracks successfully ejected 172 lb (78 kg) of waste from the International Space Station (ISS) using the station’s Bishop Airlock on June 2. The waste was then burned up in the atmosphere.

How is trash taken out of ISS?

When four astronauts generate around 5,500 lb (2,500 kg) of waste annually, living on the ISS is comparable to renting an apartment with terrible trash service. Until an uncrewed Cygnus cargo ship is set to depart, trash aboard the station is packed up and stored away. The garbage is loaded into the craft’s hold, where it safely burns up over a barren portion of the Pacific Ocean in the Earth’s atmosphere.

What is the new method of taking the trash out?

This is by no means a perfect solution, and because the ISS is expected to be replaced by a number of commercial space labs once it is shut down at the end of the decade, Nanoracks is working to create a more adaptable on-demand system for use in its Starlab and other platforms.

The new idea is based on the SmallSat (Kaber) and Cubesat Deployer (NRCSD) deployers from Nanoracks. It is ejected from the station using a special container and a waste bag that can carry 600 lb (270 kilogrammes) of garbage. It’s uncertain if it reaches the atmosphere naturally or with a retro-rocket pack. Foam and packaging materials, cargo transfer bags, soiled crew uniforms, various hygiene items, and spent office supplies made up the trash for the test.

Dr Amela Wilson, Nanoracks CEO says, “This was the first open-close cycle of the Bishop Airlock, our first deployment, and what we hope is the beginning of new, more sustainable ISS disposal operations. This successful test not only demonstrates the future of waste removal for space stations but also highlights our ability to leverage the ISS as a commercial technology testbed, which provides critical insights into how we can prepare for the next phases of commercial LEO destinations..”

Does it work in the long run?

This new method is far from perfect but is great step towards treating waste in a better way. As of now, there are chances of air pollution but we can look forward to much more improved methods coming up in the future.

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