TOKYO – An innovative cleaning system that uses an adhesive compound to collect debris in space will debut in the first half of 2019, Singapore-based company Astroscale told EFE Thursday.
The company is expected to launch its first trial mission, expected to last between six months to a year, to demonstrate its key technologies for future missions, and intends to set up a cleaning service by 2020, said a spokesperson of the company’s development and production center in Tokyo.
The system, brainchild of Nobu Okada, a Japanese entrepreneur and founder of Astroscale, comprises a satellite called the “mother” unit, which has six “child” units to collect the debris with the help of a special adhesive.
Once a reasonable amount of debris has magnetically attached itself to the devices, the “child” units will enter the earth’s atmosphere and combust together.
The company said the aim is to establish a clean-up system for space agencies and private operators to effectively remove debris of defunct satellites from space in the future.
There are more than 750,000 pieces of debris, each measuring at least one centimeter in space, European Space Agency (ESA) Director General Jan Worner said on Tuesday during the opening day of the seventh space debris conference that is being held until April 21 at its Darmstadt center in Germany.
These pieces pose a serious threat as even a very small piece can severely damage an operational satellite and produce chain collisions, which may make mobile networks, television or meteorological forecasts non-functional.
The main space organizations, including the ESA and NASA have not yet developed a proven technology to deal with the problem, prompting Okada, who is currently in Darmstadt participating in the ESA conference, to set up Astroscale four years ago.