Space Debris Management System

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The need to clean up space debris is urgent. We propose a comprehensive, self-sufficient and robotically enabled system, avoiding multiple launch support platforms once deployed. The main outlines comprise an initial vehicle together with a related debris processing plant. A space based debris mitigation asset of this type would also provide clear expectation and outflows for the parallel development of satellite servicing, in space vehicular interventions and space based refueling capacity. Such considerations would include for self-sufficient, renewable and independent space based vehicular power sources.

Debris mitigation might be assumed as a vehicular based intervention, collection and processing activity, while bigger volumes, such as spent satellites or spacecraft, would be collected utilizing a basket-shaped collecting and retrieving device. For these attributes the deployment of a modular storage and processing unit provides a linked in-situ resource facility.

A vehicle includes a central body with navigations, power generation and engines, PV modus and operational components for flight activities. Debris docking and retrieval assets, including storage and transfer mechanisms to ISRU processing identities. Small and micro debris capture through lateral placed and extendable parabolic collection modules, providing optional closures during large debris collection and closely negotiated programs. A laterally attached housing for retrieval equipment including an exostructure or canister for the collection of large debris and safe transportation to processing unit. The processing facility comprises an autonomous, self-sufficient and separate but related component, to be located in a suitable servicing orbit or more conveniently as connected to a workplace orbital platform such as the International Space Station ISS.Such a unit will contain docking and transfer equipment to receive materials from the mobile debris management vehicle, an internal storage area for small debris and an external storage capacity for large debris pending processing. The processing unit will qualify all debris materials, according to re-use potentials, separate metals and melt them into small form, providing basic resources for space based manufacturing. The space debris management system can be obtained with two launches of the outgoing technologies. The processing unit will be launched first and connected to the manned facility (ISS or similar) where it will be rendered operational. The space debris management and retrieval vehicle will be the second single launch. This would be docked to the orbital platform, adjacent to the fully compatible processing unit for system deployment into long term ability. As a capacity for re-cycling and related space originated manufacturing becomes rapidly enabled, we may envision a future perspective where all space located materials are subject to re-cycling and re-use, including the future generations of large scale orbital operational platforms beyond the ISS.

The value of this line of approach is given in several ways, primarily to prevent and reverse the continuing deterioration of the orbital environment. Such strategy also implies an original economic perspective into space industrialization, within the re-use values and space based manufacturing principles.


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  • Name:
    Charles Radley
  • Type of entry:
    Team members:
    Giorgio Gaviraghi, Joe Miller, Pier Marzocca, Amalie Sinclair*
    *Corresponding Author, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Leeward Space Foundation,
    P.O. Box 3573, Estes Park, CO. 80517, 229-380-8034,
  • Software used for this entry:
    3dmax and corel draw
  • Patent status: