Image of the Day: Reentry

Credit: NASA

The International Space Station doesn't have a lot of room for junk. There's not a lot of room for much of anything, really. When a cargo capsule drops off a bunch of new swag (because I assume that swag of some description is mostly what they're sending up there), the astronauts unload it, and then stuff it full of... Well, to be honest, I have no idea what space trash looks like. The internet just told me that it includes "chemicals, radioactive materials, batteries, sharps, and biologically/biomedically active products and consumables of no further use." So there you go. All of that gets stuffed into a cargo capsule, and cast off back to Earth. The goal, however, is not to land it, but to blast it into the upper atmosphere at ludicrious speeds to turn it into trashy vapor.

This picture above was taken from the ISS, and it shows the final moments of the Japanese HTV-4 cargo spacecraft. A bit earlier, it looked like this:

As much as it costs to build a spacecraft like this and send it into orbit, once it's up there, all that it's really good for is what really has to be the world's most expensive trash can.

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