Rocket Lab to Launch Satellite Aimed at Reducing Space Waste
Rocket Lab will carry a low Earth orbit satellite designed to reduce the amount of hazardous space waste.
Launched from the company’s Mahia Peninsula complex later this year, the Finnish-designed AuroraSat-1 will test its new technology after being launched above the planet’s surface.
The new technology includes a water-based propulsion system and deployable plasma brakes, which effectively create drag in low earth orbit, slowing boats down and making them more sensitive to the planet’s gravitational pull.
The sensors of the US Department of Defense’s Global Space Surveillance Network (SSN) track more than 27,000 orbital debris or space debris.
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However, much of it is too small to follow. Since the debris and the spacecraft are moving at speeds of around 15,700 mph, even a tiny spot of paint can damage the spacecraft or satellites.
The AuroraSat-1 was developed by Aurora Propulsion Technologies, a Finnish company dedicated to the sustainable use of space.
The CubeSat, which is roughly the size of a toaster, will test the company’s water-based thruster and its system that can help control or correct a satellite’s altitude. if it starts to fall.
AuroraSat-1 will also test its deployable plasma brakes.
These combine a very small tether with charged particles in space, which generate drag, which could be used to slow spacecraft out of orbit when they reach the end of their lifespan.
Satellites that have descended from orbit will generally burn on their return to the atmosphere.
AuroraSat-1 technology could one day be installed on satellites to allow operators to bring them back to Earth, rather than allowing them to accumulate as space waste.
Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck said sending the satellite into space would allow Aurora to bring its technology to market faster.
The mission is expected to follow three consecutive Electron launches in August and September, which will see the start of the CAPSTONE mission to the moon in support of NASA’s Artemis program.
Rocket Lab spokesperson Murielle Baker described space waste as a growing problem.
âWith the significant increase in the number of spacecraft expected to be put into orbit over the next several years, the problem of space debris will only worsen if no action is taken.
âWith space debris bulky in orbit for satellites, there is a risk of collision for all launchers because of this. “
In a separate effort to make space more sustainable, Rocket Lab is also working on a method of retrieving the first stage of its Electron rocket, which would typically fall back to Earth and be lost.