Space is seriously facing debris problem with so many satellites launch and debris floating in outer space in form of non- operational satellites and its parts. At present, more than 2000 satellites are orbiting in lower earth atmosphere. According to space.com, a leading outer space related website, almost 1500 satellites are scheduled to launch in space. This number however may be lower than the estimation given the ongoing pandemic situation which has forced space agencies and space companies to halt their regular operation and research. But no matter what number of space objects will launch in coming months and year, the problem remains same and grave and that is ‘SPACE DEBRIS’.
Our outer space is becoming big junk of space objects with very less efforts are being going on to either lessen it or remove debris from the earth. Almost every space organization is in testing stage to develop technique and instrument like satellite which can remove space objects which are floating around the lower earth orbit. USA’s space agency NASA has a separate department known as ARES is working towards tracking and mitigating space junk. In 2019, European Space Agency green lit space debris mission ClearSpace-1 to remove an item an item of debris from space set to be launch in 2025. A Japanese Space Company Astroscale has begun constructing a prototype spacecraft ELSA-d which is planned to be launch in 2020 in space to remove dead satellites and pieces of dangerous space junk.
Recently, Los Alamos National Laboratory situated at New Mexico, USA has come up with their own plan on how to lessen space debris in future. According to its researchers, if the launching organization or companies use solid rocket fuel instead which are high-thrust, safer and reasonable at costing and it also can be stored for long period of time. However, it has its own limitation. It cannot be restarted once launched and also its movement cannot be stopped. And so that’s where researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory have come up with breakthrough solution. They have recently developed the ability to stop and restart solid rocket motors numerous times from a single solid rockets in static test stands. A payload is also being developed that will contain power separately from the satellite and will be equipped with solid rocket system.
These solid rocket system and payload containing them shall play significant role in reducing space junk and for de-orbiting for years even after the satellites becomes non-functional.