Exploring ‘New Space’ Challenges: Space Sweepers and Congested Highways

A key issue to consider is the potential for overcrowding in space. As space is becoming more commercialised, this could potentially lead to space becoming congested. As a result, there is an increasing risk that satellites could collide with space debris. 

More than 130 million pieces of space debris, ranging from small paint flecks from spacecraft, to defunct satellites, spent rocket bodies, and even tools dropped by astronauts, are thought to be orbiting the Earth. This debris poses a serious threat to satellites and the public services they provide, including communications, navigation, and environmental monitoring, and they can remain in orbit for hundreds of years. 

In essence, there is no shortage of objects to be swept up. 

Space Sweepers

It is important to not underestimate the potential challenges that congestion in space could cause. As such, technology for actively removing space debris (ADR) is progressing quickly.

But is it economically viable? Astroscale Holdings, a Tokyo-based company, thinks so. Their objective is to offer a solution for debris collection at a reasonable cost, mostly to governments. Several other companies are also joining in the effort to ensure that space travel remain safe by monitoring and participating in ADR.

For example, Canadian company NorthStar Earth and Space state that ‘Congestion in space is a clear and present danger to all satellites’ and recognise that ‘accurately tracking and predicting positions of objects is an immediate challenge, and essential to achieve safety in space flight’. Two UK-based companies (ClearSpace and Astroscale) are also in the process of designing missions to clear hazardous space junk alongside the launch of a new programme to back cutting-edge space technology.

Space-Age Sustainability

The challenge facing today’s inventors is to lessen the estimated 130 million debris items in orbit left over from decades of space exploration without creating more. It is therefore essential that when thinking about the delivery and launch of space sweepers, sustainability must be a core pillar in their production. All phases, from product design to manufacturing, from operation and post-mission to longer product lifespans, from reusable components to efficient operation, are all crucial components.

Businesses much be able to utilise end-to-end visibility to accomplish these goals. A simple way of doing this is by their concepts and performing what-if scenarios. For example, modelling the trajectory of a rocket can help to increase its effectiveness and safety. To uncover ways to reuse materials and components, virtual models of those things can be examined. A satellite’s lifespan can even be maximised, and orbital debris can be reduced by utilising simulation to visualise and design the satellite’s orbit.

How can we help?

It is crucial that start-ups and SMEs are able to operate fluidly across disciplines, time zones, markets, and regions as they continue to disrupt the business. This can be achieved thanks to virtual modeling that has been created on our single data platform 3DEXPERIENCE.

In order to precisely predict how complex systems would behave in various orbits and atmospheric conditions, designers can collaborate in real time using the 3DEXPERIENCE solution. They can utilise the model to collaborate with suppliers and optimise manufacturing as they refine their design, keeping the project on schedule. As a result, innovation is more swift and effective along the entire value chain, and any possible issues are fixed before actual production starts.

Get in touch today to find out more about how we can help you overcome ‘New Space’ challenges with 3DX.