The US space force is allocating $ 1.5 million to deal with space debris

Following fears of space debris this week for the International Space Station (ISS) – caused by a Russian anti-satellite missile test – space debris has become a military priority.

As the United States calls on space nations to act responsibly in space, the U.S. space force is preparing to award private contracts to companies that will help them remove orbital debris. report from Cable explains.

Russia’s “destructive test.”

of Russia test for anti-satellite weapons, held on Monday, November 15, led to the scattering of space shrapnel, which flew anxiously near the ISS this week at approximately 17,000 mph (27,350 km / h). The event prompted astronauts and astronauts aboard the space station to take refuge in the most structurally stable parts of the station.

Although Russian authorities have stated that space shrapnel does not pose a threat to space activities, press release the US State Department opposed the claim, saying the Russian Federation had “recklessly conducted a destructive test” that resulted in more than 1,500 pieces of space debris making several close transitions to the International Space Station every 90 minutes or so. this. “The safety and security of all participants seeking to explore and use outer space for peaceful purposes have been carelessly compromised by this test,” the statement continued.

Taking action against space debris

Above 22,000 pieces of space debris constantly monitored by The US Department of Defense’s Space Observation Network (SSN) is a number that will continue to grow based on current trends. Several methods have been developed to clean up space debris, including one by researchers at the University of Utah uses magnetic fields to direct space debris in a certain direction. However, some experts say that not enough investment is needed to prevent space debris from becoming an unsustainable problem.

In an attempt to take action against the space debris problem, the US State Department called for “all responsible space nations to join us in efforts to develop norms of responsible behavior. ” In addition, starting this week, the US space force’s technology division, SpaceWERX, is recruiting private sector companies to develop technologies that will help remove space debris as part of a new program called Orbital Prime.

An infographic showing the technology in which the US Space Force will invest with the Orbital Prime program. Source: SpaceWERX / Twitter

To begin with, SpaceWERX will award $ 250,000 worth of contracts to companies that develop methods to dispose of space debris. The technology can also be used to refuel and repair satellites that would otherwise become space debris when they no longer work.

The second phase of the Orbital Prime program will see the most promising methods with contracts worth $ 1.5 million. The ultimate goal is for the resulting technology to be deployed in orbit by 2023 at the earliest. To participate in the program, companies must be based in the United States and affiliated with a university or a federally funded research institution.

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