There are many countries, organizations, and private companies conducting various space explorations. This has mainly been fueled by the curiosity to discover what lies outside our planet and to help answer one of humankind’s oldest mysteries… is there life outside of earth? While this is a huge step in the right direction for humanity, space exploration has its limitations.
One of the challenges space exploration faces is that most satellites and other space exploration machines rely on propellants which only have a short lifespan. The Space X Falcon 9 rocket which was launched last month is on a mission to deploy satellites which are only expected to last for 15 years in orbit. Over the years, lots of satellites from various organizations have ran out of propellants and power while in orbit. As a result, there is currently estimated to be over 7,000 tons of space junk orbiting the earth. This is a problem for space exploration as it poses a risk to other satellites or spacecraft.
A UK-based company called Effective Space recently came up with a solution to this problem. The company has designed a space drone which uses patent pending technology to safely dock onto the dying or dead satellites and provide them with propulsion needed for another 7 years. According to the developers, the drones will have robotic capabilities, a docking system, and a thruster system that takes over the control of satellite. The drones will be able to keep the satellites in place, relocate it, or even de-orbit it to the graveyard section where it cannot pose a threat to other satellites.
The final version of the drone will be about the size of a washing machine. Its docking technology means it will be able to connect to a satellite without disrupting its current operations. After it safely docks, the drone’s thrusters act as a jet pack, allowing it to move. In addition to helping dying satellites, the drones will also help in debris removal by reducing the amount of space junk in earth’s orbit. According to Effective Space, the developers are on track to send the first two drones into orbit in a launch scheduled for 2020.