Our Innovation Analysts recently looked into emerging technologies and up-and-coming startups working on innovative solutions for the space industry. As there is a large number of startups working on a wide variety of solutions, we want to share our insights with you. This time, you will discover 5 promising space debris retrieval and monitoring solutions.
Heat Map: 5 Top Space Debris Retrieval & Monitoring Solutions
Using the StartUs Insights Discovery Platform, covering 1.379.000+ startups & scaleups globally, we looked at innovation in the field of space technologies. For this research, we identified 114 relevant solutions and picked 5 to showcase below. These companies were chosen based on a data-driven startup scouting approach, taking into account factors such as location, founding year, and relevance of technology, among others. Depending on your specific criteria, the top picks might look entirely different.
The Global Startup Heat Map below highlights 5 startups & scaleups developing space debris retrieval and monitoring solutions. Moreover, the Heat Map reveals regions that observe a high startup activity and illustrates the geographic distribution of all 114 companies we analyzed for this specific topic.
OrbitGuardians – Low-Cost Active Debris Removal (LCADR) Service
Kessler syndrome is a theoretical scenario in space where one collision leads to another and results in multiple further collisions. Since this scenario is believed to become a reality in the future, there is a high necessity and demand to monitor and remove the active debris currently in space. Emerging space technology companies are working on solutions to tackle this major threat to space exploration.
The US-based startup OrbitGuardians is a commercial provider of active debris removal services. The startup aims to protect space workers, tourists, and operating satellites by actively removing dangerous space debris smaller than 20 cm. Through technologies such as computer vision, artificial intelligence (AI), and the Internet of Things (IoT), the startup enables low-cost active debris removal. The startup also leverages IoT and AI to acquire debris parameters and eliminate potentially dangerous targets.
ClearSpace – Man-Made Space Debris Removal
Of all the man-made satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO), 95% are space junk. This includes rocket thrusters, derelict satellites, and most of all, tiny fragments of debris from collisions and explosions. All this debris poses a potential threat to the future of space travel. This situation encourages emerging startups to invest in and develop feasible solutions for debris removal.
ClearSpace, a spin-off from the Swiss EPFL Space Center, develops technologies to remove unresponsive or derelict satellites from space. ClearSpace One, the startup’s small satellite solution, finds, captures, and remove man-made space debris repeatedly. As for an expected timeframe, the startup plans to remove the first pieces of debris from space by 2025.
Share My Space – Collision Warning & Debris Monitoring
As of 2019, there are over 900.000 space debris between 1 and 10 cm large in Earth’s orbit. These and different sized debris endanger more than 2.000 operational satellites. Hence, space companies develop new methods, techniques, and warning systems to tackle the issue of debris in space. One such example involves the monitoring of space debris to provide timely alerts and warnings to astronauts and space vessels in proximity.
French startup Share My Space offers a collision warning service based on astronomy observations and deep learning algorithms. The startup creates multiple solutions to tackle the challenge. First, INDEMN predicts the risk related to on-orbit collisions. Second, CALM enables satellite operators to respond to collision warning messages automatically. Third, DRYADE helps with systematic on-orbit space debris collection based on bio-mimicry. Share My Space systems integrate heterogeneous data sources coming from multiple detection technologies, such as lasers mounted on telescopes, to improve the accuracy of debris monitoring.
Astroscale – On-Orbit Servicing & Space Debris Removal
With the ever-growing amount of debris in space, on-orbit servicing and active debris removal have become essential. For this purpose, satellites are actively being used to remove large debris from space by observing, characterizing, and eventual removal of debris to secure safe and sustainable orbits for generations to come.
Japanese startup Astroscale removes orbital debris through the provision of End of Life (EOL) and Active Debris Removal (ADR) services. JAXA works with Astroscale and its Active Debris Removal for Phase I of its Commercial Removal of Debris Demonstration project (CRD2) which focuses on the removal of a Japanese rocket body. In addition to providing a technical solution, Astroscale defines the business case for this service and is working with national space agencies, international institutions, non-profit organizations, insurance companies, and satellite operators. The goal of this cooperation is to develop norms, regulations, and incentives that contribute to the responsible use of space.
Obruta – Tethered-Net Removal Technology
Novel methods to remove the active debris in space for humans to sustainably occupy the orbital space is the need of the hour. One such method is the tethered-net removal technology, widely used in debris monitoring. The net capture system relies on deployment masses that accelerate during net deployment in order to move a net out of a container and to inflate the net on the way to its target object. After capture, the net is wrapped around the target and establishes a tether line connection to the service spacecraft.
Based in the US, startup Obruta meets the growing concerns around the safety, removal, and future mitigation of all space debris. The startup tackles the immediate threat of space debris through active tethered-net removal technology and end-of-life deployable deorbiting systems. To enable humans to occupy space in a sustainable manner, Obruta is developing the Puck, a device to end the single-use paradigm of spacecraft. By enabling refueling amongst other features, the Puck allows all satellites to extend their lifespans while aiding in their eventual removal.
What About The Other 109 Solutions?
While we believe data is key to creating insights it can be easy to be overwhelmed by it. Our ambition is to create a comprehensive overview and provide actionable innovation intelligence and enable you to achieve your goals faster. The 5 space debris retrieval & monitoring solutions showcased above are promising examples out of the 114 we analyzed for this article. To identify the most relevant solutions based on your specific criteria, get in touch.