More than 500,000 Earth orbiting objects
Space debris is a serious issue. From 1957 to 2016 the number of objects orbiting the globe went from 2 to 40,000. And that is just the number that we can track/detect. There are many other smaller pieces that we have not been able to pinpoint. These objects are orbiting Earth at very high speeds and have a high probability of crashing into each other, making more debris, so it is important to remove them before this happens.
Orbital debris has begun to attract a great deal of attention, as the accumulation of more than 500,000 Earth orbiting objects continues to grow. The so-called “Kessler Syndrome,” is a chain reaction precipitated by collisions between satellites, resulting in debris growing out of control. In her last mission Shuttle Commander, Eileen Collins, said: “The biggest threat to the crew and the shuttle was being hit by space debris.”
Ad Astra has developed an orbital sweeper concept (a space garbage truck, if you will), a 200-kW solar-electric VASIMR® space tug, capable of removing large pieces of orbital debris from LEO by controlled deorbit. Our studies show that such a tug could economically capture and deorbit 20 large objects in 19 different orbital planes in a single mission before refueling.
Need more information about this solution?