Since humanity began space exploration, man’s space debris has been orbiting the Earth. According to the US Department of Defense Space Surveillance Network (SSN), there are approximately 27,000 pieces of orbital debris that pose a threat to missions and astronauts. And, with the new era of space exploration, pollution is not even showing to stop.
Although to date, space debris is collected and burned by taking it into the Earth’s atmosphere, different companies seek to give a better use to this debris.
For this reason, the Australian company Neumann Space has proposed an “electric propulsion system”, similar to a gas station in space which aims to convert this waste into rocket fuel.
The Japanese company Astroscale and the North American companies Nano Rocks and Cislunar collaborate in the project, which is funded by NASA. According to Herve Astier, CEO of Neumann Space, each of them has respectively proven that debris can be captured, stored and melted into metal rods that can then generate fuel.
“A lot of people are throwing money into the rubble. Often it is to get into the atmosphere and burn it. But if it is there and you can capture it and reuse it, it makes sense from a commercial perspective because you are not sending it there, “Astier told British media The Guardian.
According to NASA, orbital debris, no matter how small, poses a threat to satellites, vehicles and astronauts, as they travel at speeds of up to 27,000 km.
In 1996, a French satellite was hit by the remains of a rocket that had exploded a decade earlier. In 2007, a Chinese missile destroyed an old satellite of his, causing more than 3,500 pieces of debris. Meanwhile, in November this year, Russia did the same and sparked criticism from the head of NASA.
According to a 1978 investigation, the proliferation of satellites in orbit would increase the possibility of collisions and their debris would produce many other collisions. This would create a debris belt around the Earth that would exacerbate the threat and obstruct further exploration.