Why is debris removal necessary?

And items like rotten food or garbage can cause rodent or pest infestations. Removing debris in a timely manner is imperative to keep the property safe and well-maintained, ready for its next inhabitants. There is no doubt that the active removal of orbital debris is a technical challenge, Gorman says. There is still no effective technology to eliminate essential space debris in situations where it is urgent to remove it.

Universities, major manufacturers, venture companies, startups, and others are working on measures to eliminate space debris with their own technologies and systems. The eDeorbit mission may be the first ADR mission carried out by ESA, with the objective of removing a large object owned by ESA from its current orbit and making a controlled reentry into the atmosphere. Space junk ranges from nanoparticles to entire spacecraft, such as the European Space Agency's Envisat, which is the size of a double-decker bus and tops the list of elimination targets around the world, says Alice Gorman, a space archaeologist and space debris expert at Flinders University in Australia. ESA and NASA studies show that, with a planned removal sequence according to a target selection based on mass, area, or cumulative collision risk, the environment can be stabilized when 5 to 10 objects are removed from low Earth orbit per year (although the efficiency of each extraction decreases as more objects are removed).

While removal objectives must be selected from a global perspective, legal restrictions regarding the ownership of space debris objects and their validation cannot be overlooked. The group proposes a method in which captured space debris will be suspended in a long cable called a conductive belt and removed from orbit while decelerating as it burns up when it enters the atmosphere. Active debris disposal (ADR) is necessary to stabilize the growth of space debris, but even more important is that all recently launched objects comply with post-mission disposal guidelines, especially orbital decay in less than 25 years. For now, according to Moriba Jah, an orbital debris expert at the University of Texas at Austin, business arguments in favor of eliminating space debris are not monetizable and are more of a “PowerPoint talk” than a real market.

The more the number of critical intact objects in the environment deviates from a sustainable level, the more objects must be eliminated to suppress any additional growth and the multiplier effects of it. Meanwhile, innovations from companies like SpaceX are dramatically reducing launch costs and opening the floodgates for many more satellites to reach low Earth orbit, where some will inevitably fail and become drifting hazards and debris generators (unless removed by space tugs like ELSA-D). This is a mechanism in which the robotic arm extended from the space debris removal satellite will capture space debris after estimating the approach and angular velocity of the debris from the approach and motion values measured in a time series. The pace of development of technology to reliably capture and dispose of space debris is accelerating around the world to prevent a further increase in space debris because it cannot be captured.

However, measures against space debris are steadily progressing on the basis of technological and systems development. If the era of space travel becomes a reality in the future and manned rockets are launched one after the other, space debris is expected to frequently cause problems.