A “pulling sail” concept designed to remove space debris from orbit has just received funding.
Spinnaker concept for leaving a small orbit satellites received $375,000 in seed funding from investment firm Manhattan West, which NASA will be eligible for its Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR Phase II-E) contract.
The combined funding of $750,000 will bring Vestigo Aerospace’s product line into commercial production, the company said in a statement. Purdue University Press (opens in a new tab)first sales expected in 2023. (Technology licensed to Purdue.)
The money is the result of much debate in the US space community about space debris in recent weeks, including a new pledge to address the growing problem Federal Communications Commission and through politics from the Biden administration.
On the topic: The disposal of space debris does not go smoothly
“The Spinnaker line of drag sails addresses the growing need for reliable end-of-mission deorbit capabilities … to maintain the stability of low Earth “Orbito,” David Spencer, founder and CEO of Vestigo, said in a statement. “On-board dragsails represent an ‘ounce of prevention’ approach to the orbital debris problem that, if left unchecked, could halt the growth of the orbital economy.”
While the technology is in its early stages, Vestigo was eager to test its Spinnaker3 concept in orbit. However, this prototype was destroyed during the debut test flight of Firefly Aerospace’s Alpha rocket, which ended with an explosion shortly after launch in September 2021.
Once operational, the sail should be available for deployment on satellites whether they are operational or not, Vestigo said. “Drag sails can be deployed on command or with a standby timer, providing a reliable deorbit capability even when the primary vehicle is inoperative,” the release said.
A spinnaker is not the only sail there is. The first spacecraft to demonstrate similar technologies of active space debris removal deployed from International space station in 2018 and China tested the sail own in 2022.
https://www.space.com/satellite-deorbiting-drag-sail-spinnaker-funding/ Drag-sail to deorbit satellites receives $750,000 in seed funding