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Top Space Official Endorses Use of Commercial Systems for Orbital Debris Removal

Space debris

Top Space Official Endorses Use of Commercial Systems for Orbital Debris Removal

Maj. Gen. DeAnna Burt, vice commander of the Space Operations Command, endorsed the creation of commercial orbital debris removal systems, citing the threat posed by space junk in low Earth orbit to satellites.

Relying on commercial solutions to clean up orbital debris is advantageous as it does not come with policy concerns tied to government-run alternatives, Burt said in a keynote at the Advanced Maui Optical and Space Surveillance Technologies conference.

She acknowledged that a government-built system could be perceived as dual-use and suspected of having applications for disabling active satellites, SpaceNews reported.

According to Burt, there is a growing discussion on the international stage about the possibility of tapping a consortium of companies to perform orbital debris removal.

“I think it will get solved in the next few years, but we definitely want to see more of that technology,” she said.

The European Space Agency already commissioned the world’s first space mission to remove orbital space debris in 2019. The mission, led by Swiss startup ClearSpace, is being procured as a service contract and is scheduled for launch in 2025.

The issue of space debris has been a cause of concern, with NASA noting that even those too small to be tracked could threaten human spaceflight and robotic missions. The space agency said pieces of debris larger than a softball can damage spacecraft when traveling at speeds up to 17,500 mph.

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Category: Space