Predominantly in the past few decades, human activity has had an impact on our earth’s physical environment. With an increasing number of endeavours into space, such as satellites and space tourism, it is inevitable that comparable results are happening up there too. When up in space, satellites malfunction, break off and come to the end of their lifespan, becoming space debris. While these man-made machines float in our galaxy, scientists are beginning to focus on creating technologies to ‘clean up’ space. Not only will this remove unused machinery, but it will also make more space for other active satellites that can be launched, especially within the lower earth orbits, whose numbers are set to upsurge in the coming years.
The European Space Agency has recently announced a pioneering project, set to act as a servicer prototype to capture multiple satellites in space, once they have reached the end of their lifecycle, as well as floating pieces of debris that may have broken off. Planned to launch in February 2024, this new technology will clear up space by gripping and collecting satellites using a magnetic and grappling fixture and is set to become a commercial service by 2030.
With these groundbreaking advancements in technology, scientists are urging telecommunications companies to start incorporating these technologies, once they have been more established, into their business plans. It is important that today's interconnected digital world is not compromised by collisions that damage active satellites in space.