Lost in Space: Curbing the Orbital Debris Threat

By Lucy Birmingham

Other private-sector players joining the space cleanup competition include California-based Global Aerospace Corporation. The company is now developing its Gossamer Orbit Lowering Device (GOLD), designed to de-orbit satellites and large orbital debris. The patented system uses an ultra-thin balloon “envelope” that attaches to debris and inflates with gas. The resulting atmospheric drag enables the ultralight balloon to lower the object from its orbital path and descend into the atmosphere, where it burns up. “We are leveraging the scalability properties of GOLD to make it applicable to space objects of all sizes, from CubeSats [miniaturized research satellites] to large space platforms,” said Vice President and Business Development Manager Dr. Nicola Sarzi-Amade. “We also expect to help develop new technology related to orbital debris detection and tracking, which would be in support not only of GOLD but also of various other orbital debris mitigation and remediation approaches.”

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