The large constellation builders are starting to launch their satellites now, despite a lack of consensus about how best to clear away worn-out or malfunctioning satellites. Enter Astroscale, a startup headquartered in Tokyo with offices in the United Kingdom, the United States and Singapore. The company is about to conduct an orbital demonstration of a magnetic cleanup technique. Astroscale’s Jason Forshaw explains how the mission will work.
Those who want to expand society into space have long dreamed of a space-made product that will prove to be uniquely lucrative. A stunning return on investment, the thinking goes, would induce others to flock to orbit with their own dreams, just as Americans headed west in the 19th century. This year, a fiber optic material called ZBLAN is receiving its moment in the limelight for its potential to ignite the space economy. Debra Werner tells the story.