The scientists intend to use the massive soon-to-be-built telescope at the Altay Optical-Laser Center and convert it into a laser cannon. The device is expected to be powered by a solid-state generator, though the project team has yet to choose which model to use.
RT noted that the laser could even vaporize something as small as a “cosmonaut’s lost glove” in low orbit. In space, even the tiniest piece of debris moving fast enough can be dangerous. We must keep in mind Newton’s First Law of Motion, which states that:
An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.
If you throw a ball on earth, it will eventually fall, due to gravity, however, space is a vacuum devoid of gravity. If you threw a ball in space, it would never stop going, though it would most likely impact something eventually. Theoretically, it could even pick up velocity and by some turn of fate, eventually, impact another planet destroying some poor innocent alien civilization…okay…that last part is a bit of a stretch, but you get the picture. Space Debris is dangerous, even when it’s small.
Low-earth orbit, is between 160 to 2,000 kilometers (100-1,240 miles) above the Earth’s surface. The laser’s energy heats an object that is pierced with a beam until it gradually evaporates.
NASA estimates that there are more than 500,000 pieces of space junk “the size of a marble or larger,” which can be tracked as they are travelling at speeds of up to 17,500 miles per hour around the Earth. It warns that even “a relatively small piece of orbital debris” can inflict damage upon spacecraft and satellites. Of about 500,000 pieces of space debris, 20,000 are “larger than a softball.”
Reports have indicated that while the laser is currently in development, it will in its current design, gradually vaporize space debris through a process called “laser ablation”. This process will apparently require focused implementation of the laser over time, so, no Russian Death Stars…yet.
While some have suggested the laser could be used in warfare, potentially against satellites or spacecraft, it must be understood this is NOT a weaponized laser, intended for combat…Russia HAS already developed those, as we have covered in the article below.
This laser, however, is intended to destroy space debris, making it safer for spacecraft, and there is a large amount of man-made space debris out there, which can threaten spacecraft attempting to leave the planet. This could be very important for Russia, as Putin has already announced Russia has a Mars mission planned next year.
When completed, the laser will become another marvel of Russian space engineering. Russia put the first human in Space. Two months ago on this day, was the anniversary of Yuri Gagarin‘s legendary orbit (April 12th, 1961).
Russia is known for the greatness of her space programs, and this latest project can certainly be put to good use keeping earth’s low orbit safe for travel, and clear of debris. This way, a cosmonaut’s lost glove doesn’t end up triggering an intergalactic war…nobody has time for that. Humans are perfectly good at destroying ourselves, we don’t need extraterrestrial help for that.
The new laser is sure to make space a safer place.