Reality is hitting hard across the UK space industry as the amount of junk in orbit continues to grow. So far, space debris is one of the main issues stakeholders face as they contemplate the future. A solution is needed fast as the Kessler Syndrome is no longer just a theory. 

UK satellites are at the forefront of these missions to remove junk from LEO. Many in the industry fear a collision can set off a catastrophic event with devastating consequences. It’s time for agencies, governments, and private companies to work together. 

Accumulation of Space Junk Spanning 25 Years

News of outstanding innovations and achievements in the space sector continues to spread across the world. There are more missions taking place, and soon there’ll be space launches from the UK. This is a significant step forward for the country.

The UK plans to be a global leader in developing and launching small or Nano Satellites into space. The goal is to get ahead of the space race and get about 10% of the market share. However, all parties have an increasing need for responsible actions, including the UK Space Agency. 

LEO is currently littered with over 6000 tons of materials that are of no use to anyone. The amount increases with each mission from all over the world. But, things have changed. Now there are more rocket launches to send payloads into orbit. The result is an accumulation of space debris each year. There’s an ever-increasing chance of things going wrong. 

Out of all the items in LEO, only 1200 are functioning satellites. The rest is junk that no one has used, hence the need for different ways to clear it from space. The rules that exist worldwide state that each organization or company involved in launches must remove objects from space after 25 years. 

But that is far from what is happening. Only 60% of space missions do their part and get rid of all non-essential items from orbit. This is according to the head of the European Space Agency (ESA), Holger Krag. He urged all involved parties to do better during the 7th European Conference on Space Debris held in April. 

The sad part is that following the rules isn’t enough? There’s too much space junk, hence the need for more solutions, including UK satellites that can extract the waste. A higher removal rate for each party is the only way to extract enough space waste to prevent future catastrophes from happening. 

There’s a growing possibility of collisions and explosions happening. The result will be further destruction of valuable items, including UK satellites, due to shrapnel. 

UK Company Proposes Necropolis and the Electrostatic Tractor

A UK company has brought forward a proposal named Necropolis. The purpose of the mission will be to defunct all stationary satellites and collect them in one area. The area will be similar to a graveyard in space. 

Necropolis will include two UK rockets with the sole purpose of collecting and parking the space junk. It means one rocket’s purpose will be finding the defunct objects, including UK satellites. Once it locates them, it delivers these items to a geostationary ring in orbit. 

The next spacecraft will be responsible for parking the debris together. The idea is from Hempsell Astronautics and seeks to bring order to the current chaotic state in LEO. More proposals are underway as the sector grows and the country gears to send British satellites to space. 

Another proposal backed by the ESA is the RemoveDEBRIS demonstrator. Once in orbit, this mission will deorbit two CubeSats using a net from an altitude of 400km. Other items necessary for this mission are a harpoon and a drag snail. 

As the country gears up for the UK rocket launch, it’s also essential to table how to eliminate the UK satellites once they become defunct. There’s so much debris floating around, and a growing concern will soon be a problem none can hide from. 

In Summary

A British rocket launch is imminent. So far, spaceport Sutherland is on track to become the first launching site in the country. It recently got the planning application approved and is proceeding to the next stage before development starts. 

With this possibility of launches, the UK space industry must find ways to remove space debris. The issue is becoming a growing concern and must be tackled to save the LEO for future generations. 

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