Astronauts empty the trash This photo taken from NASA TV shows a close up of a capsule loaded with 1.5 tons of trash released from the International Space Station on Friday, Feb. 19, 2016. (NASA via AP)
Astronauts empty the trash
Lexile

The International Space Station just got a whole lot tidier.
 
A pair of NASA astronauts released a capsule loaded with 1.5 tons of trash as the space station soared over Bolivia. The capsule was expected to re-enter the atmosphere and burn up harmlessly over the Pacific on Feb. 20.
 
NASA supplier Orbital ATK launched the capsule to the space station in December, full of food, clothes and other goods. The astronauts removed the precious contents, then filled it with garbage and old equipment for incineration.
 
Commander Scott Kelly and Timothy Kopra, the Americans on board, sent computer commands to set the Cygnus free. The stunning 250-mile-high view showed the capsule slowly backing away, its two circular solar wings looking like open umbrellas.
 
Kelly, who's less than two weeks from wrapping up an unprecedented yearlong mission for NASA, thanked everyone who worked on the Cygnus - "this great vehicle."
 
"It's been a pleasure," he noted.
 
"A beautiful release," replied Mission Control.
 
Virginia-based Orbital ATK plans to launch another Cygnus with more supplies from Cape Canaveral, Florida, in late March. The flight was delayed a few weeks after black mold contaminated some of the cargo bags. Technicians had to disinfect everything.
 
SpaceX, meanwhile, another commercial cargo carrier for NASA, is aiming to make a delivery in the next few months. The company is working to get back on track following a launch accident last summer.
 
NASA has handed off space station shipments to private business so it can focus on getting astronauts beyond low-Earth orbit, namely to Mars. It hopes to do the same with space station crews next year. For now, U.S. astronauts are hitching rides with the Russians.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why doesn't dumping the trash create pollution?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (32)
  • kevinb-1-bar
    2/25/2016 - 09:10 p.m.

    Dumping the trash does not create pollution because the article says that it would just burn up and disintegrate over the Pacific Ocean. This also may be a good resolution to pollution from landfills accept that it is hard to get the trash all the way to space which can take up space and energy from the rocket. It says in the article, "The capsule was expected to re-enter the atmosphere and burn up harmlessly over the Pacific on Feb. 20." this just says that the trash will disintegrate and burn up over the pacific and no harm done. What I thought about this article was that it is very cool and that this could be a new solution to landfills.

  • erino-6-bar
    2/25/2016 - 11:47 p.m.

    Dumping the trash doesn't create pollution because the trash burns up in the atmosphere. After removing the contents previously in the container, the astronauts "then filled it with garbage and old equipment for incineration." Since it was incinerated in the atmosphere, it left no pollution behind to worry about.

    I was interested by this article because my dad is an aerospace engineer and I am fascinated by his job.

  • kaleyc-pla
    2/29/2016 - 10:29 a.m.

    This article discusses the Space Station releasing a capsule of trash. This capsule was sent to the space station in December containing food and other supplies, and has been filled with trash until February 20th. The capsule will be incinerated on contact with the atmosphere, and is directed to come in contact with the atmosphere above the Pacific ocean.

    I think it's very interesting how we release a space capsule to be incinerated, especially because it was previously used to transport supplies. It is also interesting how NASA has handed off space shuttle shipments to private businesses to allow the NASA program to focus on advancing the areas in space we can send humans - particularly to Mars. Advancing our space program is important not only to keep up with other competing countries but also to improve our knowledge and space technology.

  • lizv-pla
    2/29/2016 - 10:37 a.m.

    Summary -
    This article is about NASA's current actions to take care of their astronauts. A capsule was sent out to the astronauts full of food, clothing, and other necessities. Once it has reached the destination and emptied it was filled with the garbage and sent out into space to be burned.
    Civic Engagement -
    This is clearly linked to civic engagement since NASA is a program that is ran by the United States government. This shows one of the things the United States is responsible for so it is important for our country to be aware of the actions of the people we put into office. If we are not careful with who we put into office then we could turn into the movie Wall-E where we trash the world and we live in a spaceship and throw everything out in space because we believe space has no limits.

  • holdeno-3-bar
    2/29/2016 - 12:24 p.m.

    The trash dump doesn't create pollution because it gets incinerated upon re-entry into the atmosphere. When talking about the trash release, the author said, "The capsule was expected to re-enter the atmosphere and burn up harmlessly over the Pacific on Feb. 20" (par. 2) The capsule was dropped back into Earth by the space station. However, the velocity and friction that occurred during re-entry would cause the trash to heat up and eventually be incinerated. This way, the trash would be less concentrated when it landed on the ocean, thus preventing pollution.
    I disagreed with this article because burning up the trash doesn't actually destroy it; it just makes humans think that it is gone, while creating the same amount of pollution.

  • aidanc2-sch
    3/01/2016 - 12:44 p.m.

    I agree with kevinb great job on your comment. The article does have a interesting concept and point.

  • matts-pla
    3/01/2016 - 06:45 p.m.

    NASA has sent an abundant capsule up into space that is filled with supplies for the astronauts. Once the capsule reaches the space station the astronauts will then fill it with waste and old equipment. NASA claims that no pollution will be created when the capsule re-enters the earths atmosphere it will burn up over the pacific. As citizens this is something we should stay engaged in and with, because this could ultimately provide a way to clean up our landfills,and reduce the amount of pollution we put into the air.

  • ellas-obr
    3/04/2016 - 01:27 p.m.

    When a pair of American astronauts, Scott Kelly and Timothy Kopra released a capsule full of trash, that would burn up in re-entry over the Pacific Ocean. Burning up in re-entry is harmless, {if there's not a human being inside}, therefore not causing pollution. NASA must have built the trash capsule for burning up in re-entry.

  • TaylorSeifert-Ste
    3/06/2016 - 12:21 a.m.

    If dumping trash from space creates no pollution, since the capsule full of trash will burn up and disintegrate over the Pacific Ocean, I wonder what would happen if we could use such a method to reduce pollution on earth. People of the world could have their trash sent to space to return to earth and burn up as it enters the atmosphere. Obviously, that'd be ridiculously expensive and would cause the destruction of whatever metals and materials would be used to make the trash capsules, but it's an idea.

  • alexb-ver
    3/18/2016 - 02:22 p.m.

    If they dump so much of trash it could go eater way, because if they dump so much trash over a period of time it would burn away before they release more trash the next time. It probably still wouldn't be good for space, but where are we going to put 1.5 tons every few months.

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