SpaceSweepers wants to clear the galaxy

SpaceSweepers wants to clear the galaxySpaceSweepers wants to clear the galaxy with a glue squirting space garbage truck. You will find this start up in Tokyo. Their mission is to remove galaxy’s debris

Tokyo is home of SpaceSweepers, a company that specializes in cleaning up space debris. Founder Nobu Okada thinks he can fix the debris problem quickly.

Okada: “Governmental space agencies hardly care about the increasing waste problem. Waste is not sexy. Aerospace organizations are afraid that the taxpayer doesn’t want to pay for this problem. You can compare this space debris with the plastic debris in the oceans. It’s dangerous and we need to fix it.”

Potentially lethal projectiles

At least 23 thousand pieces of space debris of at least 10 centimeters, are currently being monitored by the US Air Force. But we are talking about tens of millions pieces, scientists think. Such as bolts or pieces of frozen coolant for rocket engines that can not be detected from Earth.

The smallest particles do have such enormous speeds that they form potentially deadly projectiles. In 1983, the space shuttle Challenger returned to Earth with a huge damage in it’s armored windshield after a collision with a small piece of paint.

And the space is getting more crowded. Companies like SpaceX and OneWeb are developing new networks of hundreds or even thousands of small satellites for Internet and telephone connections. More satellites mean, more risks of collisions.

If we do not remove the junk, the debris ring may be unstable. And that could have implications for the use of satellites.


This situation offers opportunities for Okada. “I started in the StartUp world. I am used to think in terms of days an weeks. Not years live NGO’s and multinationals.

Okada developed a plan in two steps to clean up the galaxy which should be lucrative.

  1. First they will launch a small satellite this year: IDEA OSG 1
    This satellite is equipped with panels which can measure the impacts of the smallest pieces of debris.

    1. With this information, Okada wants to make a detailed map of the density of the space debris at various heights and locations. Next step is to sell the information to satellite companies and space agencies.
  2. ELSA 1
    The second, more ambitious step follows in 2018, when they will launch the first ELSA. This device is larger and equipped with sensors and thrusters, which can track and intercept the space debris.
    To intercept the debris, he wants to use glue. The glue is smeared on a surface the size of a tray, which should ‘angle’ the debris to the ELSA 1. ELSA as well as the space debris will then burn up in the atmosphere.

According to Okada, the limited weight of the glue is one of the biggest success factor. The considered glue weights an ounce. Okada’s engineers have figured out a way to keep the weight less than the ELSA hundred kilos, far less than other proposed space debris trucks.

Initially Astros Cale wants to focus on faulty satellites. “We will not start with space debris. We will focus on our customers. Real debris removal begins when we have perfected the technology. ”


“We have to earn money at an early stage. Even before we start cleaning up. He claims have raised  $ 43 million from investors.


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