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Singapore-Based Startup Wants to Clean Up Manmade Debris in Space

May 04, 2016 11:38 AM EDT
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With various space technologies sending satellites, rocket ships and other spacecraft into outer space, it is inevitable that some debris may get left behind. That's the problem this Singaporean startup wants to address, cleaning the manmade debris in space using a satellite.

The debris can be parts and fragments of old satellites and once they accumulate, it can create pollution in space. It can pose a threat to mathematically and scientifically calculated functions of existing systems and satellites in space.

Motherboard recently introduced the Singapore-based startup called Astroscale who built a satellite not intended to beam any information back to earth, but to clean the debris in space.

Miki Ito said in an interview that "In March, after a series of tests, we finally made a glue that manages to trap bits of space debris while withstanding harsh space environments."

According to their website, ASTROSCALE "is a Singapore-based satellite services company that was founded in 2013 with the objective of developing innovative solutions against the growing number of space debris." They are currently preparing for their first missions IDEA OSG and ADRAS 1.

IDEA OSG 1 will be tasked to collect data. To perform the waste collecting process in space, ADRAS 1 satellite is equipped with the technology Astroscale have developed. ADRAS 1 can automatically detect and maneuver towards space waste. And then the two-piece satellite will separate from each other sticking out an adhesive pad to pull the debris inside. What's interesting is that ADRAS 1 is designed to disintegrate by itself upon re-entry on earth so that both itself and the wastes collected will burn said Ait-Mohammed Nori, engineer at Astroscale. Because space is a harsh environment exposed to cosmic radiations, solar light and other unpredictable elements, Ito said it wasn't easy to produce a glue strong enough to survive the harsh environment

 ADRAS 1 is scheduled to be launched in 2018. Last March Astroscale was able to secure $35 million in funding.

Their mission is to prevent manmade problems from hindering further development in space and to promote interest in space technology with the younger generation of Asian kids. She said based on her Japanese roots, space technology should not be developed for profit. "They want to be part of something that will benefit the world, and getting rid of human-caused space debris will ensure the safety of future space missions."

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