A private company may have come up with an absolutely ingenious way to tackle the space junk problem by using giant space bags to catch debris.
Our planet is surrounded by roughly 26,500 pieces of debris more than 4 inches wide, according to the European Space Agency. But that number doesn’t even include the smaller pieces, which total upward to 330 million. While some have discussed making it easier to keep debris from building up – like making satellites and other spacecraft more controllable for descents – we still have to find a way to tackle all the trash orbiting our planet already.
That’s where companies like TransAstra come into play. According to Space.com, TransAstra recently received an early-stage NASA contract to create revolutionary space bags that could help catch debris and space junk in orbit, allowing us to more safely bring it back down to Earth, where it can be appropriately disposed of or perhaps even reused.
The contract that TransAstra received is for $850,000, and it will essentially cover the bag, which will be designed to inflate once it reaches orbit. The inflated bag will then be able to move around, capturing different pieces of debris and other things. It’s an intriguing idea, unlike any other space junk solution that has been proposed before it.
However, there is a catch. This early stage development means that the space bags won’t be ready anytime soon. In fact, it will probably take years to make such a thing possible, especially if they hope to get it flight-ready and able to inflate in orbit. This new contract builds off a previous contract that TransAstra received for space bags designed to capture asteroids and other space rocks.
While working on that idea, the company realized that capturing asteroids and space junk would probably be very similar, thus causing it to branch off and attempt to create a space junk capturing bag that we can use to clean up Earth’s orbit.