NASA Awards Contract to TransAstra for Development of Space Debris Snatching Bag
NASA has chosen space logistics startup TransAstra for an $850,000 early-stage contract to develop a groundbreaking bag that can snatch space debris. This innovative technology aims to tackle the growing problem of space junk that poses a threat to satellites and future space missions.
The contract will involve testing an inflatable bag, equipped with inflatable struts, on the ground. This bag will be used to capture and remove space debris, with the hope of eventually deploying it in space. This is not the first time TransAstra has received a contract regarding inflatable capture bags; their initial contract focused on capturing asteroids or space rocks.
TransAstra identified that both asteroids and space debris generate potentially hazardous tiny pieces, resembling pebbles, in space. By applying similar technologies, the company aims to tackle both of these challenges.
To transport the bag and capture debris in low Earth orbit, TransAstra plans to employ a space tug named Worker Bee. However, the technology is still in its early stages, and it could be several years or even decades before it is ready for spaceflight.
The urgency behind developing this technology is evident in the staggering number of debris objects present in Earth’s orbit. It is estimated that there are around 36,500 debris objects larger than 4 inches and a staggering 330 million trackable objects larger than 0.04 inches. These objects pose a significant threat to operational satellites and future space missions.
The deployment of the space debris snatching bag could potentially help mitigate this threat by collecting and removing some of the larger debris objects from Earth’s orbit. However, it is important to note that this technology is still in its infancy and will require further refinement and testing before it can be put into action.
NASA’s collaboration with TransAstra highlights the significant efforts being made to address the issue of space debris and ensure the long-term sustainability of space activities. As space exploration and satellite deployment continue to increase, finding innovative solutions for debris removal becomes crucial to the future of space navigation.
With NASA’s support, TransAstra’s development of the space debris snatching bag holds promise for a cleaner and safer outer space environment.
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