September 27, 2023

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NASA is looking for a large bag to collect and dispose of space junk

NASA is looking for a large bag to collect and dispose of space junk

A catch bag that will be used to collect space junk in orbit.

A catch bag that will be used to collect space junk in orbit.
screenshot: Trans Astra

Picking up space trash can be as easy as putting pieces of a defunct spacecraft into a giant bag, sealing it, and dumping pesky space junk into an orbital recycling plant. At least that’s what aerospace startup TransAstra hopes to do with its inflatable catch bag.

NASA recently gave the California-based company an award Initial contract worth $850,000 to build the inflatable space trash bag and demonstrate its technology on Earth, SpaceNews mentioned.

The catch bag was originally invented for the Asteroid Redirect mission, which was designed to rendezvous with a near-Earth asteroid and collect a multi-ton rock from its surface. Although the original concept was for asteroid mining in low Earth orbit, Trans-Astra soon realized that its inflatable bags could also work for cleaning up orbital waste.

MMore than 27,000 pieces of orbital debris are currently being recovered tracking by the Department of Defense’s global space surveillance network, with plenty of small pieces also floating around undetected. This number will increase as the global space industry continues to grow, with more spacecraft being launched into low Earth orbit. In fact, things have gotten so bad that the target is coming The mission was to remove space junk I hit it with another piece of space junk before the giant claw could clean it up.

TransAstra hopes to deploy its catch bag in orbit, designed to inflate and collect several pieces of orbital debris like a Pac-Man space toy, while attached to a space tug called the Worker Bee. The bag will then transport its collection of space junk to the on-orbit recycling plant, ThinkPlatform.

“Repeated flights to capture orbital debris and transport it into the Earth’s atmosphere for disposal require significant propellants and time,” SpaceNews quoted Nicole Shoemaker, Trans-Astra’s vice president of strategic partnerships, as saying. “Space recycling plants solve this problem and turn what was once a liability into an asset that not only mitigate orbital debris, but opens up new possibilities for manufacturing and building in space.”

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