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Watch the ISS dump 172 pounds of trash in space as waste removal gets upgraded

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Watch the ISS dump 172 pounds of trash in space: Station receives new waste container that shoots garbage bags out into the final frontier so that they can burn up in the atmosphere

  • Nanoracks, a private space company based in Houston, successfully tested a new technology to streamline space waste disposal 
  • The waste container can hold up to 600 pounds of trash inside the firm’s Bishop Airlock 
  • Currently, astronauts have to collect trash and store it within the ISS for months while waiting for the Cygnus cargo vehicle to arrive and haul it away.
  • ‘Four astronauts can generate up to 2,500 kilograms of trash per year, or about two trash cans per week.’ 

Taking out the trash on the International Space Station just got much easier.

Nanoracks, a private space company based in Houston, successfully tested a new technology that will streamline the process of waste disposal in outer space.

On July 2, Nanoracks deployed a special waste container that can hold up to 600 pounds of trash that’s held inside its Bishop Airlock. 

The waste bag is then released, where it will burn up upon reentry into the atmosphere, and the Airlock is remounted empty. 

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‘Waste collection in space has been a longstanding, yet not as publicly discussed, challenge aboard the ISS,’ Cooper Read, Bishop Airlock program manager at Nanoracks, said in a statement. Pictured is the new Nanoracks technology dumping trash into outer space

‘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 (low Earth orbit) destinations,’ said Dr. Amela Wilson, Nanocracks CEO, in a statement.    

Currently, astronauts have to collect trash and store it within the ISS for months while waiting for the Cygnus cargo vehicle to arrive and haul it away. 

After Cygnus completes its main mission at the ISS, the astronauts fill the spacecraft with trash before it is released from the station to de-orbit – at which point the entire spacecraft burns up upon reentry into Earth’s atmosphere. 

The company’s first test of the technology – conducted in partnership with NASA’s Johnson Space Center – held about 172 pounds of trash that included foam and packing materials, cargo transfer bags, dirty crew clothing, assorted hygiene products and used office supplies.

On July 2, Nanoracks deployed a special waste container that can hold up to 600 pounds of trash that's held inside its Bishop Airlock. Pictured is the International Space Station

On July 2, Nanoracks deployed a special waste container that can hold up to 600 pounds of trash that’s held inside its Bishop Airlock. Pictured is the International Space Station

'Four astronauts can generate up to 2,500 kilograms of trash per year, or about two trash cans per week, notes Nanoracks. Pictured above is the deployment of the new technology

‘Four astronauts can generate up to 2,500 kilograms of trash per year, or about two trash cans per week, notes Nanoracks. Pictured above is the deployment of the new technology 

‘Waste collection in space has been a longstanding, yet not as publicly discussed, challenge aboard the ISS,’ Cooper Read, Bishop Airlock program manager at Nanoracks, said in a statement.

‘Four astronauts can generate up to 2,500 kilograms 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.’

The new system is based on the flight proven, successful Nanoracks Cubesat Deployer (NRCSD) and SmallSat (Kaber) deployers. 

The company notes that Bishop provides a platform for proof of concept operations, as well as the ability to test subsystems and robotics, expose hardware to the radiation environment and deploy satellites. 

EXPLAINED: THE $100 BILLION INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION SITS 250 MILES ABOVE THE EARTH

The International Space Station (ISS) is a $100 billion (£80 billion) science and engineering laboratory that orbits 250 miles (400 km) above Earth.

It has been permanently staffed by rotating crews of astronauts and cosmonauts since November 2000. 

Crews have come mainly from the US and Russia, but the Japanese space agency JAXA and European space agency ESA have also sent astronauts. 

The International Space Station has been continuously occupied for more than 20 years and has been expended with multiple new modules added and upgrades to systems

The International Space Station has been continuously occupied for more than 20 years and has been expended with multiple new modules added and upgrades to systems 

Research conducted aboard the ISS often requires one or more of the unusual conditions present in low Earth orbit, such as low-gravity or oxygen.

ISS studies have investigated human research, space medicine, life sciences, physical sciences, astronomy and meteorology.

The US space agency, NASA, spends about $3 billion (£2.4 billion) a year on the space station program, with the remaining funding coming from international partners, including Europe, Russia and Japan.

So far 244 individuals from 19 countries have visited the station, and among them eight private citizens who spent up to $50 million for their visit.

There is an ongoing debate about the future of the station beyond 2025, when it is thought some of the original structure will reach ‘end of life’.

Russia, a major partner in the station, plans to launch its own orbital platform around then, with Axiom Space, a private firm, planning to send its own modules for purely commercial use to the station at the same time. 

NASA, ESA, JAXA and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) are working together to build a space station in orbit around the moon, and Russia and China are working on a similar project, that would also include a base on the surface. 

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