At PACA Space Debris, we are working to build a highly experienced team of business professionals, scientists, engineers, and contributors who will carry forward the dream of peaceful space exploration without limits. We want to undertake the greatest adventure that we imagine possible in our present world. Building the foundation for the centuries to come requires focus, dedication, and hard work. Many explorers and pioneers such as Richard Branson, Robert Bigelow, Denis Tito, and Elon Musk developing vessels and systems which could take people into space, but they all have a common need: a sky clear of debris. In this era of private industry growth and focus on space, care must be taken to prepare ourselves for the responsibilities of this new arena. If we venture into space unprepared to meet the challenges we have ourselves created by 60 years of space activity, we will not prevail and our dreams of larger scale exploration will soon be compromised. For this reason, PACA Space Debris is reaching out to entrepreneurs and inventors, as well as anyone who cares about humanity’s future in space to begin a movement for change.

 

 

Thus far, NASA and other agencies keep spacecraft such as the International Space Station away from space debris by constantly maneuvering whenever debris comes close. At the cost of $20 million per maneuver, this is an expensive reactive approach which does nothing to actually solve the problem. The fact is that debris needs to be removed from space in order to clear a pathway for the present and future. Furthermore, it is the small debris which pose the greatest threat to spacecraft today – because there are 600,000 pieces of 1-10cm debris in orbit, each of which has the explosive energy of a hand grenade upon impact with a satellite. It is PACA’s mission to safely de-orbit the 1-10cm sized debris.

To say that we would like to bring this issue before the United Nations isn’t saying enough. We need to translate our vision into action so that our world has a chance to build a peaceful future in space. To do that we need to secure the support of investors and partners. This is possible, as what we are proposing stands to benefit the companies which supply the satellites which provide telecommunication services to people around the globe. Without those satellites, there would be no business structure for those companies to prosper. It’s a win-win for everybody. Our planet, our future, our skies. Let’s remove the space junk.

We are seeking new friends and partners. If you would like to contribute, or if you simply want to learn more, email us at info@pacaspacedebris.com and we will send you information by email. Also visit our Facebook page to and follow us on Twitter. If you are a computer whiz, we need you to keep our momentum going on the internet. Visit our Links page for a list of our current collaborator websites. We’d love to add yours to our list!

And we are holding a contest for space debris ideas. We are seeking proposals from anyone who wishes to collaborate and improve PACA. In exchange, we have several prizes and are excited to offer you the chance to submit your ideas and become part of PACA. Email us at info@pacaspacedebris.com.

 


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A U.S. Air Force B-52H Stratofortress from Edwards Air Force Base released the X-51A from 50,000 feet above the Point Mugu Naval Air Warfare Center Sea Range at 10:55 a.m. Pacific time. After the B-52 released the X-51A, a solid rocket booster accelerated the vehicle to about Mach 4.8 before the booster and a connecting interstage were jettisoned. The vehicle reached Mach 5.1 powered by its supersonic combustion scramjet engine, which burned all its JP-7 jet fuel. The X-51A made a controlled dive into the Pacific Ocean at the conclusion of its mission. The test fulfilled all mission objectives.
“This demonstration of a practical hypersonic scramjet engine is a historic achievement that has been years in the making,” said Darryl Davis, president, Boeing Phantom Works. “This test proves the technology has matured to the point that it opens the door to practical applications, such as advanced defense systems and more cost-effective access to space.”A Boeing X-51A WaveRider unmanned hypersonic vehicle achieved the longest air-breathing, scramjet-powered hypersonic flight in history May 1, flying for three and a half minutes on scramjet power at a top speed of Mach 5.1. The vehicle flew for a total time of more than six minutes.

A unit of The Boeing Company, Boeing Defense, Space & Security is one of the world’s largest defense, space and security businesses specializing in innovative and capabilities-driven customer solutions, and the world’s largest and most versatile manufacturer of military aircraft. Headquartered in St. Louis, Boeing Defense, Space & Security is a $33 billion business with 59,000 employees worldwide.
The X-51A program is a collaborative effort of the Air Force Research Laboratory and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, with industry partners Boeing and Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne. Boeing performed program management, design and integration in Huntington Beach, Calif.
The flight was the fourth X-51A test flight completed for the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory. It exceeded the previous record set by the program in 2010.

 

 


The Swiss Space Center at the Swiss Federal Institute for Technology in Lausanne announced on February 15 its plan to develop and launch a satellite to remove space debris from low Earth orbit. The $11-million satellite, called CleanSpace One, is intended to actively intercept and de-orbit one of two Swiss satellites: the Swisscube-1 picosatellite, launched in 2009, or its cousin TIsat-1, which are each cubes 10 centimeters on a side. CleanSpace One is intended to rendezvous with its target, extend a grappling arm to grab the picosatellite, and then plunge into Earth’s atmosphere, which would result in CleanSpace One’s destruction as well as the defunct satellite during reentry. The announcement by the Swiss Federal Institute has been met by enthusiasm by the space debris community, and it holds the promise to demonstrate a viable means of space debris removal. However, in announcing this effort, the Swiss may have inadvertently provided the answer to policy questions surrounding the issue of space debris removal.

 Space debris removal entails more than then technical challenges. Significant legal and policy challenges are also a substantial part of space debris removal. The legal issues surrounding space debris removal include ownership issues under international law, liability, and in the case of nations such as the United States, technology and licensing and export matters.2 However, while these issues are impediments to space debris removal, they are not insurmountable.

 olitical issues surrounding space debris removal are another impediment equal to, if not greater than, to those presented in the legal arena. Of the political difficulties presented, the most onerous extends to the hardware and methodologies used to remove space debris from orbit because they may be construed to have the potential dual use as a weapon to either disable or de-orbit functioning space objects. This political concern is embodied by the continuing efforts by China and Russia in their efforts to enact the draft Treaty on the Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space, the Threat or Use of Force against Outer Space Objects (PPWT). Development and use of technology and methodologies may proceed without the intent of using them for harmful purposes; however, political and diplomatic posturing by other spacefaring and non-spacefaring nations alike could brand space debris removal efforts as a pretext for more threatening activities simply because the potential exists for the technology and methodologies to be used in a manner inconsistent with their true purpose.

 The Swiss space debris removal effort, however, could sidestep the space weapon debate in particular and provide a forum for large-scale space debris removal efforts. Switzerland has traditionally taken a neutral political stance in larger world affairs. It has no ongoing geopolitical issues with China and Russia, and it stands to reason that the planned flight of CleanSpace One will not raise political objections that the use of the technology demonstrates a space weapon capability. If no objections are raised, and CleanSpace One completes its mission, Switzerland may unintentionally create two routes to nullify political concerns about space debris removal and open up the activity en masse.

 First, a successful removal by the Swiss of one of its satellites could set a customary precedent for international space law in that it would perform the otherwise unprecedented maneuver of removing a space object through the use of another space object. Performing such a maneuver without objection of the international community could establish a customary norm that a nation can remove a derelict space object registered to it through the use of another space object without the interference or objection of other nations.

 Another avenue that the Swiss effort could take is to provide a neutral launching state through which space debris removal efforts may be undertaken. Space debris efforts launched under the auspices of the Swiss government could allow large-scale space debris removal efforts to take place without the political objection that it is a cover for the testing or deployment of space-based weapons. Such an path might be unsavory for the major spacefaring nations; however, utilizing Switzerland’s neutrality to avoid political suspicions would allow legal mechanisms to be employed, including consent agreements to interfere with and remove another foreign sovereign’s derelict space object, licensing agreements to address export controls, security clearances in the case of space objects involved in national security activities and indemnification in the event that removal activities produce liability to the Swiss government.

 Alternatively, if the Swiss government sees an economic benefit in the space debris removal industry because of its political neutrality, it might consider promulgating a domestic space law similar to the one adopted by Austria in 2011 (see “A first look at Austria’s new domestic space law”, The Space Review, December 12, 2011). Creating a domestic space law would help facilitate foreign non-government entities to create organizations under Swiss jurisdiction for the purpose of space debris removal. Creation of such a law would allow organizations to incorporate and operate within Switzerland and perform space debris removal under Switzerland’s jurisdiction as a launching state thus taking advantage of Switzerland’s neutrality and the diminished scrutiny that affiliation would entail.

 The Swiss announcement of its space debris removal demonstration is a positive step forward in space debris removal efforts. However, what is more encouraging is the potential political door the Swiss announcement may have opened. Whether the Swiss government will further open the door and invite other nations to take advantage of their political neutrality to usher in large scale space debris removal is uncertain, but the opportunity for Switzerland is apparent and ripe for the picking.