Too Much Junk

With space debris posing a growing danger to spacecraft and satellites, DARPA says it is exploring the merits of removing man-made debris from Earth orbit. This study, known as Catcher’s Mitt, will model debris, both now and projected in the future, and then, if appropriate, explore technically and economically feasible solutions for debris removal, said the agency in a release. “If justified, potential follow-on efforts might include a new DARPA-led program, or DARPA support for an effort led by another US government organization,” said Wade Pulliam, a DARPA program manager. Data for the study are being gathered from three sources: a NASA-sponsored conference on debris removal held Dec. 8-10 in Chantilly, Va., a forthcoming request for information to industry for removal concepts, and utility studies by DARPA, the Air Force, and NASA that model the growing risk of debris to space operations.