SDGs in space: Initiatives for space debris removal in Japan

By Staff Writer
February 17, 2023
A huge amount of space debris is currently orbiting earth. Space debris mainly consists of parts of obsolete satellites and rockets that no longer serve a useful function in orbit around the earth.

More than half a century has passed since mankind first started space exploration. During that time, while many of the satellites and rockets that have been launched have since returned to earth, many have remained in orbit after having finished their roles, abandoned in outer space. Because orbital velocities are so high, even small debris present a threat to active satellites and astronauts, including the ISS. Many around the world have begun looking into solutions and are taking action against this space environmental problem.
The earth surrounded by a cloud of satellite debris
In Japan, some companies are quick to take up this issue. A startーup company founded in 2013, launched the world's first space debris removal demonstration satellite in 2021 after repeated trial and error in developing the complex technology to remove debris. In addition, the company is currently planning a service that will help to extend the life of satellites to help prevent the generation of new debris.

A Japanese university and a private company are working together on a project to launch wooden satellites. If satellites are made of wood, they will burn up completely in the earth's atmosphere when it becomes space debris. It eliminates concerns about pollution and danger to the earth. Using wooden material will lead to cleaner and more environmentally friendly satellite development.

At present, other ventures and major companies are entering the industry, and space debris removal is moving from the developmental/experimental stage to the commercialization stage as a space business.
The International Space Station
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has also set a goal for the 2020s to make space debris removal as a new space business. Currently, they plan to conduct joint development with a company aiming for commercialization and to demonstrate large-scale space debris removal technology. In addition, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology and JAXA are considering launching a space debris removal satellite in 2025.
Post your comments