NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Program
Phase I Award: Up to $125,000 for 9 Months
Crosscutting High Apogee Refueling Orbital Navigator (CHARON) for Active Debris Removal
As of January 2018 an estimated 8,100 tons of space debris has accumulated in low Earth orbit consisting of spent rocket bodies, mission-related debris, and collision fragments. The vast majority of these objects are too small to detect with radar systems, but there are over 29,000 known objects larger than 10 cm. Impacts between these objects and operating missions have damaged costly equipment, required expensive collision avoidance maneuvers, and endangered the lives of astronauts on the international space station.