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Companies Collaborate To Form Rocket Fuel From Recycled Space Debris

Four companies have joined forces under an international collaboration, to recycle the debris pieces floating in space and produce propellants out of them.

space debris

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The menace of space junk is getting serious and dealing with them efficiently is the need of the hour to ensure the safe functioning of space bodies and future space missions. In order to make that happen, four companies have joined forces under an international collaboration, where they plan to recycle the debris pieces floating in space and produce propellants out of them. According to The Guardian's report, Australian company Neumann Space is leading the collaboration with Japan's Astroscale along with US-based Nanorocks and Cislunar to develop an “in-space electric propulsion system”.

How will the system work?

Recently, the threat due to space debris increased manifolds when Russia fired an anti-satellite missile to destroy a soviet-era satellite which endangered the International Space Station (ISS) and the lives of seven astronauts presently staying there. Currently, there are thousands of debris pieces that are travelling at 28,000 kilometres an hour and even the smallest of particles are enough to cause severe damage to functional satellites and the ISS. 

Companies to produce space junk for fuel production 

The propulsion system will use recycled fuel to extend the missions of spacecraft, move or de-orbit satellites, as per the requirement. And for producing the recycled fuel, each of the member companies has been assigned a particular job. According to The Guardian, Nanorocks is developing robotic mechanisms that would catch and cut the debris pieces floating in space, whereas Cislunar is working on how to melt those pieces to transform them into metal rods. All these companies will execute their work based on the model demonstrated by Astroscale on how satellites will help store the space junk for fuel production. It is these metal rods that would work as fuel for the propulsion system, where the metals will be ionised to create thrust for moving the objects in space. The companies, who have received a grant from NASA, have already developed a prototype of the propulsion system to see how it worked. Calling the idea 'futuristic', CEO of Neumann Herve Astier told The Guardian-

A lot of people are putting money into debris. Often it’s to take it down into the atmosphere and burn it up. But if it’s there and you can capture it and reuse it, it makes sense from a business perspective, because you’re not shipping it up there. It’s like developing a gas station in space.  

Image: Shutterstock

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