Falling space debris and colliding space junk: how one company’s technology can prevent catastrophe.
What if falling space debris could be captured before crashing to earth? Rogue Space Systems Corporation, a New Hampshire-based aerospace startup, is developing a one-of-a-kind technology to make that possible.
Rogue’s OmniMagnets will be capable of stopping objects from tumbling to earth, as well as conducting repairs to satellites. In development through a partnership with the University of Utah, this technology will allow controllers to manipulate even non-magnetic objects in space and allow for six degrees of movement.
Rogue’s Orbot fleet includes three robots: “Fred,” a robot that can move satellites and other assets to and from different orbits; “Laura,” designed to perform close-proximity inspection and observation services; and a third Orbot to be officially announced in the coming months. The three are supported by Rogue’s AI-Enabled Sensory Observation Platform (AESOP) and is funded by the U.S. Space Force, a new branch under the U.S. Air Force whose function is to conduct global space operations. In June, the first robot is to be launched into orbit, in cooperation with the provider Exolaunch on a SpaceX rocket.
Capturing space junk can also be beneficial to manufacturing in space, an initiative being led by the University of New Hampshire’s (UNH) John Olson Advanced Manufacturing Center. The center was recently awarded a $300,000 grant by NASA to lead a consortium road mapping effort on in-space manufacturing. The goal of the road map is to explore ways to commercialize, industrialize and democratize space by creating a manufacturing ecosystem off earth. Over the next year and a half, the center will conduct four workshops to gain stakeholder input for the roadmap.
The potential to manufacture in space could also help address the issue of “space junk.” There are already discussions around using these metals from space junk to create new parts through, for example, incremental forming, an area that the Olson Center specializes in.
Several other New Hampshire-based companies are also involved in groundbreaking space related innovation. A small Charlestown, New Hampshire-based company played a key role in the released James Webb Telescope images. Optical Solutions Inc. provided 30 of their lenses for the Near Infrared Camera aboard the James Webb Space Telescope. More than 10 aerospace companies from across the state supported five different aspects of the Artemis 1 rocket, most notably being Orion, the spacecraft providing emergency abort capability and safe re-entry from deep space return velocities. Orion was supported by three New Hampshire-based companies: Cobham Exeter Inc. (a leading global technology and services innovator in Exeter), Jackson Bond Enterprises LLC (aerospace engineering firm and manufacturer in Dover) and RDF Corporation (a leader in surface, insertion and immersion temperature and heat flux sensors based in Hudson).
There is no doubt that New Hampshire has proven to be a hub for aerospace innovation – from providing parts for the James Webb Telescope and the Artemis 1 to leading research in space-based manufacturing. It’s most certainly a destination to keep on your radar.