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Painting our doors

This week I've been working on a new novel, Renaissance.  The action is set on a large recycling ship, and I had to ask myself: What does a recycling ship do?  And how does it carry out those operations?  
My starting point for answering those questions was remembering snatches of video I'd seen on the news about recycling plants here on Earth.  Basically, stuff comes in, travels along a big belt to get sorted, and drops into different bins.  So how would this work on a ship out in the hostile void of space?  Well, you wouldn't get a fleet of lorries turning up and dumping their loads in your reception area.  I needed a different way to recycle space junk.  So here's what I came up with.
The ship sidles up to the piece of junk and then takes it apart using grapples and drones.  Those tear off chunks of the the structure.  They then pass through airlocks and down chutes to the Belt Room.  When they come on to the belt, scanners identify what the junk is made of and sort i…

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