As work on ACRUX-1 wrapped up earlier this year, the team began to seek out the next set of challenges MSP would take on – projects and opportunities that align with our focus on education.
MSP’s vision is to launch the next generation of technology pioneers. This statement guides the direction of our company, informs our decision-making around projects and drives all the activities that we undertake. Our goal is to recognise and catalyse the individuals who will shape our world. By providing them with forward-thinking training, guidance and community-focused development, we believe we can give these individuals the boost they need to thrive.
One of the growing concerns in the space sector is space debris, and the alarming amount of ‘space junk’ that currently orbits our blue planet. Many satellites are only built to last a few years (or less!), and once they are out of commission, they often have nowhere to go – other than to just keep orbiting.
Currently there are hundreds of thousands of pieces of debris – ranging from fully-intact old satellites to spent rocket stages to fragments of these the size of marbles – causing congestion and intensifying the risk of collisions with orbiting operational spacecraft.
It’s a problem that has technological, legal, political and economic implications – and our upcoming project vision involves looking at the ability to remove space debris long-term.
Tackling space junk with a two-part mission
One project we are looking forward to undertaking involves a two-part space situational awareness mission. Space Situational Awareness (SSA) refers to knowledge of the near-space environment surrounding Earth.
The first part of this mission would aim to test a payload called ELROI (Extremely Low Resource Optical Identifier), which is a mechanism that will help to identify your satellite as it orbits, even when your satellite is not working or you can no longer establish communication with it.
The second part of this mission would aim to test a payload from Saber Astronautics called DragEN. DragEN is an electromagnetic tether with its own power supply that will allow satellites to de-orbit using a current to generate a magnetic field that interacts with the Earth’s magnetic field.
Both the ELROI and DragEN are intended to be redundant systems, with the objective of demonstrating that you can deorbit a satellite that has malfunctioned and is without communication capabilities.
With a few other projects still in the pipeline, we’re excited to bring you more information on these once they are given the green light for announcing. Stay tuned for news on our work as well as when MSP will be opening up more volunteer opportunities to join our team.