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 John Slough MSNW LLC
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.
DENVER, April 10, 2019 (Astroscale PR) – Astroscale Holdings Inc. (“Astroscale”), the market-leader in developing a space debris removal service to secure long-term orbital sustainability, today announced the opening of a new office in Denver, Colorado (“Astroscale U.S.”), adding a strategic United States base to already established entities in Singapore, Japan and the United Kingdom. In concert with the expansion of its global presence, Astroscale has solidified its leadership team and secured an additional US $30 million in an extension of its Series D investment round. The funding extension round brings the total Series D amount to US $80 million and total capital raised to US $132 million.
Jeff Bezos’ Amazon has jumped into a crowded field of companies seeking to provide high-speed broadband, data and other communications services to the entire globe.
Amazon’s Kuiper constellation of 3,236 satellites brings the total number of spacecraft in the 16 announced systems to 20,241 spacecraft. The competition includes SpaceX, Boeing, Telesat, SES and government-backed companies in China and Russia.
Indian officials are dismissing concerns expressed by NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine about debris in low Earth orbit from an Indian anti-satellite (ASAT) test that could threaten the International Space Station (ISS) and other spacecraft.
The Hindustan Times reports that an official from the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) as downplaying the dangers.
The DRDO chief and a spokesperson did not comment. An official of the agency, while asking not to be named, said the debris will disappear in 45 days. “The test was calibrated keeping in mind the debris issue. The world should know that debris from two Chinese tests is still floating whereas those created by the Indian test will disappear,” he added.
An Indian expert said that India conducted the anti-satellite test responsibly but agreed it could have raised risks for the ISS. “I would say India conducted the test responsibly. At 300km, the altitude is lower than that of the ISS and most of the other satellites and the debris will come back to the atmosphere of the earth eventually. That said, there is a possibility that some debris might enter the apogee of the space station; the risk of collision increases as it does with any object sent to space ,” said Rajeswari Rajagopalan, head of nuclear and space initiative, Observer Research Foundation (ORF).
Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi hailed the test, saying it made India a space power.
During a NASA all-hands meeting on Monday, Bridenstine said the test created 400 pieces of debris, including 24 that went above the apogee of the International Space Station (ISS).
“That is a terrible, terrible thing, to create an event that sends debris into an apogee that goes above the International Space Station,” he said. “And that kind of activity is not compatible with the future of human spaceflight. It’s unacceptable, and NASA needs to be very clear about what its impact to us is….
“While the risk went up 44 percent, our astronauts are still safe. The International Space Station is still safe. If we need to maneuver it, we will. The probability of that, I think, is low,” Bridenstine added.
The space station has maneuvered on many occasions to avoid potential debris strikes.
Bridenstine expressed concerns that the Indian ASAT test will inspire other nations to conduct similar ones, thus increasing the debris in orbit.
Citing new satellite constellations that plan to collectively launch thousands of new satellites into Earth orbit, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has decided to update its regulations on space debris for the first time in 15 years.
“Proposed deployments of large satellite constellations in the intensely used LEO region, along with other satellites deployed in the LEO region, will have the potential to increase the risk of debris-generating events,” the FCC said in a notice in the Federal Register. “New satellite and deployment technologies currently in use and under development also may increase the number of potential debris-generating events, in the absence of improved debris mitigation practices.”
SURREY, UK (University of Surrey PR) — The RemoveDEBRIS satellite, one of the world’s first attempts to address the build-up of dangerous space debris, has successfully used its on-board harpoon-capture system in orbit.
The Airbus Stevenage designed harpoon featured a 1.5 metre boom deployed from the main RemoveDEBRIS spacecraft with a piece of satellite panel on the end. The harpoon was fired at 20 metres/sec to penetrate the target and demonstrate the ability of a harpoon to capture debris.
PARIS (Thales PR) — More powerful and accurate, Earth Observation satellites feature major breakthrough technologies contributing to a better understanding of our planet, our oceans, our weather conditions… in a nutshell, our global environment. Earth Observation satellites, whether using radar or optical payloads, can also be used for defense uses, in particular for applications linked to maritime security or border surveillance. Moreover, powerful telecommunications satellites can offer High Speed Internet in certain coverage zones, directly contributing to bridge the digital divide, in particular in isolated areas.
Yet that only will be possible if they can find space in that space—a place to park in orbit that will not be vulnerable to the dangers of increasing space debris.
WASHINGTON, November 15, 2018 (FCC PR) — The Federal Communications Commission today initiated a comprehensive review of its orbital debris mitigation rules. [Download proposed rules here.]
Orbital debris, also known as space debris, consists of a variety of objects, including non-functional satellites, that are orbiting the Earth. Debris can pose a risk to operations in Earth orbit, including satellites and manned spacecraft, and in some instances, pieces of debris falling back to Earth can pose a risk to persons and property on the surface of the Earth.
SINGAPORE, October 31, 2018 (Astroscale PR) — Astroscale Pte. Ltd (“Astroscale”), the market-leader in developing a space debris removal service to secure long-term spaceflight safety, obtained additional funding of US $50 million from a group of investors led by INCJ Ltd. (INCJ), and including funds operated by SBI Investment Co., Ltd. (SBII) and Mitsubishi Estate Co., Ltd. (Mitsubishi Estate) among others.
This is the fourth round of funding raised by the ground-breaking company based in Singapore and it brings the total amount of capital investment to US $102 million.
BREMEN, Germany (UKSA PR) — The United Kingdom and Australia will co-operate on activities including communications technologies, space situational awareness and satellite navigation, Science Minister Sam Gyimah announced today (3 October).
The Memorandum of Understanding, signed at the International Astronautical Congress in Bremen, Germany, provides a framework for collaborative activities and the exchange of information, technology and personnel between both nations.
New Zealand Government and LeoLabs Ink Agreement to Extend Space Debris Tracking for Low Earth Orbit to the Southern Hemisphere
MENLO PARK, CA, USA September 29, 2018 — LeoLabs, Inc., the leading commercial provider of low Earth orbit (LEO) mapping and Space Situational Awareness (SSA) services, today announced a broad-based agreement to build its next space radar in New Zealand. This establishes New Zealand as the site for the first radar of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. As the third radar in LeoLabs’ network, the New Zealand radar will be the first to track debris as small as 2cm in low Earth orbit.
J.-C. LIOU, M. MATNEY, A. VAVRIN, A. MANIS, AND D. GATES
In recent years, several commercial companies have proposed telecommunications constellations consisting of hundreds to thousands of 100-to-300-kg class spacecraft in low Earth orbit (LEO, the region below 2000-km altitude). If deployed, such large constellations (LCs) will dramatically change the landscape of satellite operations in LEO. Fig. 1 shows the current mass distribution in LEO. The top blue histogram shows the total and the three curves below show a breakdown by object type (spacecraft, rocket bodies, or other). The mass distribution is dominated by spacecraft and upper stages (i.e., rocket bodies). The yellow bars from 1100 km to 1300 km altitudes show the notional mass distribution from 8000 150 kg LC spacecraft or, equivalently, 4000 300 kg LC spacecraft. From the large amount of mass involved, it is clear that the deployment, operations, and frequent de-orbit and replenishment of the proposed LCs could significantly contribute to the existing orbital debris problem.
HOUSTON (NASA PR) — The International Space Station serves as humanity’s orbital research platform, conducting a variety of experiments and research projects while in orbit around the planet.
On June 20, 2018, the space station deployed the NanoRacks-Remove Debris satellite into space from outside the Japanese Kibo laboratory module. This technology demonstration was designed to explore using a 3D camera to map the location and speed of orbital debris or “space junk.”
The NanoRacks-Remove Debris satellite successfully deployed a net to capture a nanosatellite that simulates debris. Collisions in space could have have serious consequences to the space station and satellites, but research has shown that removing the largest debris significantly reduces the chance of collisions.
GUILDFORD, UK (Surrey Satellite PR) — RemoveDEBRIS began its experimental phase of its mission on 16 September with the deployment of the net to capture a deployed target cubesat.
The net was developed and supplied by a team of engineers at Airbus in Bremen, Germany.
The RemoveDEBRIS satellite platform was designed and manufactured by SSTL and houses two target cubesats and four debris removal technologies – a net, a harpoon, vision based navigation using cameras and LiDaR, and a de-orbit dragsail. The spacecraft is operated in orbit by SSTL’s engineers from our Spacecraft Operations Centre here in Guildford.
RemoveDEBRIS is a low cost mission funded jointly by the European Commission and 10 partners including Airbus, Surrey Space Centre, Ariane Group, SSTL, ISIS, CSEM, Inria and Stellenbosch University.
The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Union Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement #607099.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that it will cost $127 million over five years to implement a House bill that gives the Department of Commerce authority to provide civilian space situational awareness and traffic management.
Of that amount, the Department of Commerce would spend $118 million for fiscal years 2019-23.
“The bill would authorize the appropriation of $20 million annually to implement the civil space situational awareness program, and an additional $5 million annually to develop and implement the pilot program,” the CBO report stated.
NASA would spend an additional $9 million over this period to establish and operate a research center focused on space situational awareness and traffic management.
Some of the costs of the program would be offset by fees.