What comes to your mind when you think of space? Do you imagine somewhere very distant, like a soundless infinite darkness with billions of stars? In reality, the space surrounding the earth is full of man-made objects called space debris. More than 600,000 pieces of objects have been identified, most of which are the rocket bodies, spacecraft parts and metal fragments created from explosions. They are orbiting around earth much faster than the speed of bullets, threatening the safety of space activities that are essential to human lives. Space debris is in fact one of the most prominent issues in the space industry.
Our daily lives are heavily dependent on the space technology. There are over 1,000 satellites orbiting around earth today. We depend on the satellites for the GPS navigation systems, televisions, phone communications, weather forecasts, business and finance communication, environmental monitoring and so on. Space debris, approximately 29,000 of which are bigger than 10cm in diameter, could collide with these satellites orbiting around the earth. The highest concentration of the observed space debris is in the Low Earth Orbit (LEO) that is below 2,000 km altitude, where 50% of the operating satellites remain.
ASTROSCALE is here to tackle the problems of space debris for sustainable space developments.
Near the earth’s orbit, there are approximately 29,000 observable pieces of debris larger than 10cm in diameter. And there are nearly a million unobservable ones that are between 1cm to 10cm in size. For the debris smaller than 1cm, the number is estimated to be hundreds of millions to trillions (as of 2013). These fragments are all orbiting around the earth at a speed of 8km per second, which is 20 times faster than a speed of bullets.
The space debris will cause destructive damage to satellites and space stations in case of collision. And once there is a collision, the objects are shattered into pieces to create more space debris. As a result, the smaller fragments become unobservable by the radars from the earth, possibly causing more collisions that are unpredictable.
The collisions between large debris fragments are predicted to occur once every five to nine years, each creating several thousands of new debris, which is in faster rate than the natural force to remove them from the orbit. In February 2009, a Russian and American satellite collided. In January 2013, a piece of debris collided with another Russian satellite to become dysfunctional. The possibility of collision is becoming higher and more threatening to the safety of the operating satellites. The number of debris is increasing rapidly. It is possible that we lose control of the satellites or the entire access to the space, unless there is a solution to actively remove space debris in the near future.
Company Name ： ASTROSCALE PTE. LTD.
CEO and Founder ： Nobu Okada
Address ： #38-04, 6 Battery Road, Singapore, 049909 [MAP]