Video Shows International Space Station Spewing Garbage Towards Earth


While earthlings may not often realize how lucky they are to have access to municipal services to take out their trash, such services to facilitate garbage removal are yet to reach space. It means the crews aboard the International Space Station (ISS) have to find some other ways to put out the trash collected during their long stays at the orbital outpost.

Video Shows International Space Station Spewing Garbage Towards Earth

Recently, ISS inhabitant Samantha Cristoforetti shared a video on Twitter that shows how astronauts aboard the ISS take out their trash. Well, the process is pretty much similar to throwing trash out of the window; however, on Earth, gravity makes it land on the ground or in someone’s backyard. In space, the trash turns to ashes as it enters our planet’s atmosphere at high speed.

“Back in July we tested a new capability for the space station,” Samantha Cristoforetti wrote in her tweet. “Filled with dry trash & foam, this big trash container was jettisoned from a depressurised airlock on the station & it burned up harmlessly in the Earth’s atmosphere.”

The video shows the trash coming out of Bishop Airlock. Another video shows a different angle in slow-motion. Developed by a company called Nanoracks, the airlock’s trash containers are capable of holding up to 272 kg of trash.

“Waste collection in space has been a long standing — yet not as publicly discussed — challenge aboard the ISS,” said Cooper Read, Bishop Airlock program manager at Nanoracks. “Four astronauts can generate up to 5,510 pounds (2,500 kg) of trash per year, or about two trash cans per week. As we move into a time with more people living and working in space, this is a critical function just like it is for everyone at home.”

Before the Bishop Airlock was deployed, which also comes in handy for commercial customers to deploy payload and move equipment around the space outpost’s exterior, the unwanted material at ISS was stored in a departing cargo ship that then burned while entering Earth’s atmosphere. The new system will enable the crews aboard ISS to take out the trash more often rather than piling it up for several months.

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