ESA Focuses on Addressing Orbital Debris

As of April 2017, more than 290 break-ups in orbit have been recorded since 1961. Most were explosions of satellites and upper stages – fewer than 10 involved accidental and intentional collisions. (Credit: ESA/ID&Sense/ONiRiXEL)

DARMSTADT, Germany (ESA PR) — With more than 750 000 pieces of dangerous debris now orbiting Earth, the urgent need for coordinated international action to ensure the long-term sustainability of spaceflight is a major finding from Europe’s largest-ever conference on space debris.

(more…)

Aerospace Corporation Wins NIAC Award for Debris Removing Brane Craft

Brane Craft Phase II concept (Credit: Siegfried Janson)

El SEGUNDO, Calif. (Aerospace Corporation PR) – NASA has awarded Dr. Siegfried Janson of The Aerospace Corporation (Aerospace), a leader in space technology and game-changing innovation, with the 2017 NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Phase II grant award, worth approximately $500,000, for further development of his Brane Craft flat spacecraft proposal.

(more…)

Video: ESA Looks to Tackle Space Debris Problem

Video Caption: Earth is surrounded by a cloud of space debris. This material ranges from dead satellites and rocket stages to fragments of material and even flecks of paint… and all this junk could do enormous damage to working satellites.

During 18–21 April, experts from around the world will meet at ESA’s European Space Operations Centre, Darmstadt, Germany for the 7th European Conference on Space Debris.

Delegates will discuss the extent of the debris problem and what can be done to ensure that satellites we rely on – providing us with services such as navigation, TV and weather forecasting – can operate safely in the future.

Talks will address acute issues like current practices in debris avoidance, novel concepts for removing debris, and the deployment of large constellations of several thousand satellites for telecommunications.

The conference will be opened by ESA Director General Jan Woerner and NASA’s former orbital debris chief scientist, Donald Kessler.

On 18 April and 21 April, live webcasts will cover the keynote address and press briefing, respectively. Details via esa.int/debris.

More information
ESA Space Debris http://www.esa.int/debris
ESA CleanSpace http://www.esa.int/CleanSpace

LeoLabs Raises $4 Million for Space Debris Tracking

MENLO PARK, Calif., Feb. 27, 2017 (LeoLabs PR) — LeoLabs, Inc., the leading commercial provider of data to track space debris and prevent collisions in low Earth orbit (LEO), today announced closing a $4 million investment round. Funding is backed by a prestigious consortium of global investors, including SRI International, Horizons Ventures, and Airbus Ventures. With this funding, LeoLabs is accelerating its cloud-based debris and satellite tracking service, expanding its ground-based radar infrastructure, and supporting engagements with commercial and governmental customers.

(more…)

Japanese Space Debris Removal Experiment Hits Snag

Electrodynamic tether deployed from cargo ship. (Credit: JAXA)

JAXA’s effort to test an electrodynamic tether (EDT) that could help clean up orbital space debris has hit a snag, Japanese media report.

The 700 meter (2,297 ft) long tether was to have deployed from the Kounotori resupply ship after it separated from the International Space Station on Jan. 27. However, JAXA says the tether, which had a mass on the end that weights about 20 kg (44 lb.), did not deploy as planned.

The agency planned to continue trying to try to deploy the tether through Saturday (today). The supply ship is scheduled to burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere on Monday.

The tether is designed to slow down a piece of debris by running an electrical current through it. The current will hasten the entry of the debris into the Earth’s atmosphere.

“JAXA plans to perform Kounotori Integrated Tether Experiments (KITE) in order to establish and demonstrate EDT technology and to obtain some EDT characteristics, such as tether deployment dynamics, and electron emission and collection in space plasma,” the space agency says on its website.

“KITE will help us identify the features and key technologies necessary to design and develop an EDT system as a method for improving space safety by removing large debris,” the website states.

China Space Program White Paper Outlines Lunar & Mars Missions

china_flagA white paper outlining China’s space policy for the next five years calls for a sample return mission to the moon, a landing on the far side of Earth’s closest neighbor, and the launch of an orbiter and lander to Mars by 2020.

China will also begin constructing a permanent space station and research and development work on a heavy-lift launcher, reusable boosters and satellite servicing systems.

The nation also wants to expand international cooperation in areas that include remote sensing, space applications, lunar and planetary exploration, and human spaceflight.

(more…)

Study Recommends Civilian Agency Take Over Space Traffic Management

In addition to active satellites, a large number of items of debris that originated from collisions, decommissioned satellites or the spent upper stages of launch vehicles are currently in Earth orbit.  Credit: ESA.
In addition to active satellites, a large number of items of debris that originated from collisions, decommissioned satellites or the spent upper stages of launch vehicles are currently in Earth orbit. Credit: ESA.

A report on space traffic management prepared for NASA recommends that the responsibility for tracking satellites and orbital debris be transferred from the Department of Defense (DOD) to a civilian agency, but it does not recommend which one.

The analysis, titled “Orbital Traffic Management,” was done by Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) under a NASA contract. Congress ordered the study as part of the Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act of 2015.

(more…)

Second Meeting of the U.S.-China Space Dialogue Conducted

state_dept_logoWASHINGTON (US State Department PR) — Pursuant to their shared goal of advancing civil space cooperation, as agreed upon in the Strategic Track of the U.S. – China Strategic and Economic Dialogue in June 2015 and reaffirmed in June 2016, the United States and China convened their second Civil Space Dialogue on October 20, 2016, in Washington, DC.

This ongoing Civil Space Dialogue enhances cooperation between the two countries, promotes responsible behavior in space, and encourages greater transparency and openness on a variety of space-related issues.

(more…)

Midland Signs Agreements With LeoLabs

orbital_debris_nasaMIDLAND, Texas, September 13, 2016 (MDC PR) – The Midland City Council and the Midland Development Corporation (MDC) approved two agreements with LeoLabs, Inc., a company offering space debris tracking services.

The city of Midland has executed a License Agreement regarding city-owned property for the use of LeoLabs.

The MDC has entered into a promotional agreement with LeoLabs, Inc., which will include advertising and publicizing for the City of Midland for the purpose of developing new and expanded business enterprises.

(more…)

Spacecraft Designed to Clean Up the Trash in Space

An artist's conception of Brane Craft about to capture a piece of space debris. (Credit: Joseph Hidalgo)
An artist’s conception of Brane Craft about to capture a piece of space debris. (Credit: Joseph Hidalgo)

EL SUGUNDO, Calif. (Aerospace Corporation PR) — NASA has awarded Aerospace a grant to investigate the possibility of developing an extremely thin spacecraft that would wrap around debris and remove it from Earth’s orbit.

The innovative concept, called Brane Craft, is a 1-meter square spacecraft that is less than half the thickness of a human hair, and therefore exceptionally light, maneuverable, and fuel efficient.

(more…)

University of Strathclyde Partners With Airbus in Spacecraft Removal Project

University_of_Strathclyde_LogoGLASGOW, Scotland (University of Strathclyde PR) — Technology for the removal of satellites from space is to be developed in a €2.8 million project involving the University of Strathclyde.

The (TeSeR – Technology for Self-Removal of Spacecraft) programme, led by Airbus Defence & Space, with funding from the European Commission, will carry out initial research for the development of a prototype of a cost-efficient but highly-reliable removal module.

(more…)

DARPA Holding Workshop on Satellite End of Life Technologies

DARPA_logoThe Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)’s Tactical Technology Office (TTO) is sponsoring a workshop to gather information to inform decisions regarding potential future DARPA programs. The workshop will be held on Wednesday, June 1, 2016, at the DARPA Conference Center (DCC) from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM Eastern Time. Advance registration is required.

The objective of the workshop is to gather information regarding (1) near-term technologies and solutions for the controlled reentry of objects from low Earth orbit (LEO) and (2) long-term advanced concepts that could evolve from near-term capabilities.

Registration closes on Friday, May 13, 2016, at 4:00 PM Eastern Time. Visit requests and other applicable documents should also be sent to DARPA by this time. For instructions on sending visit requests to DARPA, please visit http://www.darpa.mil/policy/visitor-information.

Full Details

Airbus Defence and Space to Lead EU Orbital Debris Project

Airbus_Defence_and_Space_logoTOULOUSE, France — Airbus Defence and Space, the world’s second largest space company, will lead the project TeSeR (Technology for Self-Removal of Spacecraft) team to develop technology to reduce the risk of spacecraft colliding with debris in space.

Together with its ten European partners, the company will develop a prototype for a cost-efficient and highly reliable module to ensure that future spacecraft don’t present a collision risk once they reach the end of their nominal operational lifetimes or suffer an in-service failure. The module may also function as a removal back-up in the case of a loss of control over a spacecraft.

(more…)

Study Finds FAA Could Take Over Space Situational Awareness from Air Force

In addition to active satellites, a large number of items of debris that originated from collisions, decommissioned satellites or the spent upper stages of launch vehicles are currently in Earth orbit. Credit: ESA.
In addition to active satellites, a large number of items of debris that originated from collisions, decommissioned satellites or the spent upper stages of launch vehicles are currently in Earth orbit. Credit: ESA.

A Department of Transportation (DOT) review has found that it would be possible for it to take over responsibility for space situational awareness from the U.S. Air Force.

(more…)

AIA Commercial Space Competitiveness Strategy for the 21st Century

aia_horizon
Commercial Space Competitiveness Strategy for the 21st Century
Aerospace Industries Association

The United States was the leader in space for much of the early Space Age after initial Soviet successes. From the development of the Saturn V rocket and the Apollo Lunar landing program, to development of the first communications satellites and the Global Positioning System, the U.S. has been the primary driver of both the exploration and commercial utilization of space.

(more…)