A Sustainable Method of Retrieving Space Debris

The cluster of Earth orbital debris poses as a constant matter of concern for future spacecraft launches on an international level. In 1978, Donald J. Kessler proposed the theory that as the density of space debris in low Earth orbit escalates, their probability of collision also increases exponentially and thus, I believe it is fundamental for all nations and organisations involved in the aerospace industry to cooperate in establishing an agenda in order to reduce the levels of cluster circulating around our home planet.

Whilst there are several private domains and international associations in the process of developing the technology to carry out this operation, I have devised a proposal with a unique selling point. The few existing groups working within this field simply have the intention of deorbiting dead satellites and allowing them to incinerate upon atmospheric re-entry, though the technological limitations, as a result of constrained funding, offer minimal profit at best. For this reason, I would like to introduce the concept of retrieving space debris, which presents the opportunity to recycle salvaged materials and decommissioned satellites or contracted recovery operations via communications companies and national military departments.

Approximately 21,000 tracked pieces of debris are orbiting Earth – 3000 of which are dead satellites – presenting a social, physical and economic threat to organisations which intend to launch astronauts and equipment into low earth orbit or beyond. Whilst conjunction assessments have been fashioned and collision avoidance manoeuvres have been implanted (with the earliest having been recorded in 1988), there has been a failure to consider the future of aerospace flight. There are expectations for an exponential surge in spacecraft launches however, if action is not taken promptly the rate of progress towards accomplishing goals such as the colonisation of Mars will decline.

A retrieval programme of acknowledged debris is an unexplored industry though, through estimates utilising our current rate of technological development and calculations of average satellite pricings, there is the potential for it to flourish into a multimillion pound industry by 2027 with immense profit margins per mission. In essence, the agenda of the Orbital Debris Retrieval Program (ODRP) is to manufacture a manoeuvrable spacecraft – suited to seizing stray fragments, debris and dead satellites which, once fulfilled shall navigate along a calculated and predetermined route to land upon an offshore site awaiting recovery. Alongside the immense publicity such an endeavour would generate, servicing companies via recovery operations will promote progressive international relations with foreign governments and organisations for the company.

The aim of this post is to raise awareness of the need to reduce orbital debris levels whilst simultaneously seek out engineers and investors who possess the passion and innovative talent to contribute towards the solution to a man-made problem. Should this spark your interest, please contact me at (Contact Us form) for a more detailed overview on the projects details, schematics and fundamental mission profiles.

(Photo credit: European Space Agency / ClearSpace1)

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