Space Janitors at Work: A Company Is Building Debris Collection Spacecraft
A company called Kurs Orbital has pledged to take care of this issue. "Kurs Orbital expands human activities beyond Earth by providing spacecraft on-orbit servicing," states the firm's website.
"Our fleet of reusable servicers, located in different orbits, enables satellite’s life extension and space debris removal missions, securing safe and sustainable orbits for generations to come."
It is estimated by market research firm NSR that in-orbit servicing, such as orbit relocation, de-orbiting, refueling, components replacement, and repair will be a $3 billion business over the next decade.
Usov told Space News that his firm will be using technology developed by the Soviets in the 1980s. In fact, Kurs Orbital has the rights to the original Kurs rendezvous system.
It's not relying on that system though, instead Kurs is developing new rendezvous acquisition modules that use machine vision, radar, and robotics which “enables fully automatic docking even with uncooperative objects,” Usov explained to Space News.
This will save the company billions of dollars. Kurs Orbital is currently raising $6.5 million in its first investment round to launch its demonstration vehicle. “I think that we will be on schedule for 2023 with a demonstration mission," Usov told Space News.
And this is just the beginning! The company is hoping to have four vehicles by 2025 to service space stations are the world. They will be raising money for these missions over the next few years.