Space Debris


How We Can Invest in Space Debris, the Businss of Cleaning up Space Junk?

Undoubtedly the most pressing necessity in the space industry leads to the most profitable inventions, yet the question remains and the race is on: What will clean up all the space debris in orbit. Here is a timeline of what may eventuate:

2013+: Astroscale has been set up for debris monitoring and tracking, plus eventually developing innovative solutions for debris removal. They raised $25m in 2017.

2015+: DARPA needs to, now and then, create something that generates a profit. Perhaps DARPA’s Futuristic Phoenix Satellite Recycling Project will not only harvest satellites, but save the space industry a lot of time and money avoiding orbital debris collisions.

2017+: D-Orbit is develping a proprietary solid-propellant technology for the commissioning and decommissioning of satellites.

2017+: Launchspace Technologies proposes sending platforms as large as football fields into low Earth orbit to sweep up space debris. The platforms, equipped with sensors, could help the U.S. government detect and track orbiting satellites and debris.

2019: Space Ventures Investors has signed a MOU with Obruta – Space Debris Removal. Obruta Space Solutions is developing tethered-net technology to target space debris and end-of-life deorbiting satellites.

2020: According to Fast Company, Russia has a $2billion plan to remove about 600 satellites out of orbit and into a fatal decline into the atmosphere. Expect some expensive shooting stars.

There are numerous companies scanning the skies for debris, including, Electric Optic Systems which is listed on the Australia Stock Exchange.

Recent developments in fundraising for space debris removal companies highlight the growing interest and urgency. Swiss startup ClearSpace, successfully raised about $29 million to support its first space debris removal mission scheduled for 2026. This fundraising was led by early-stage investor OTB Ventures, plus with contributions from Swisscom Ventures and the Luxembourg Future Fund. ClearSpace’s initiative aims to develop a spacecraft equipped with four articulated arms to de-orbit part of a Vega rocket from low Earth orbit (LEO).

The U.S. Space Force has shown support for the development of commercial orbital debris removal systems, emphasizing the importance of addressing the congestion in Earth’s orbit. This highlights the potential for private sector involvement in debris removal as a service-based opportunity, without the policy concerns associated with government-run alternatives. The need for “trash trucks” in space to make debris go away is increasingly recognized, and the involvement of the private sector is seen as valuable in solving this problem.

International collaborations and agreements, like the Space Situational Awareness (SSA) arrangement between the Indian and U.S. governments, aim to enhance the exchange of data on space debris threats. These initiatives underscore the global nature of space debris challenges and the need for cooperative efforts to monitor and potentially remove debris.

Companies like Atos and OHB (Visit OHB Share Price page) have also engaged in contracts to support space situational awareness, further indicating a growing market for space debris monitoring and removal services. These developments demonstrate a concerted effort across both the public and private sectors to address the critical issue of space debris, with fundraising and international cooperation playing key roles in advancing these initiatives.

At Space Ventures Investors we are forward looking and perceive the problem, the reaction and the solution: Space debris is not a problem until something gets destroyed, the reaction is (apart from more debris) a legal dilemma as a sophisticated and expensive piece of equipment destroyed in space opens up a whole new legal playing field, or pardon the pun, orbit of opportunities.
The destruction of property is one thing, but the global pre-meditated avoidance of the destruction of space property is another jurisdiction yet to be enforced; once the rules are in play that space debris is from a forensic point of view (where possible) attributable to a particular provider of said space debris, then the applications will arise in earnest to meet the challenge: Zero Space Debris Commitments and Internationally Mandated Space Debris Remove Operations.

At this point, perhaps 2020, the applications on the drawing board for removing debris from popular and practical orbits suddenly become interesting, and after trials, profitable.

Image Source: ESA Distribution of Space Debris

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