Sky Perfect Jsat has formed a new subsidiary called Orbital Lasers to create a laser-based technology for removing space debris. The goal is to eliminate over 100 million particles of space debris larger than one millimeter in Earth’s orbit. The development of the technology is slated for 2025, with a prototype planned for 2027 and space removal services expected to commence in 2029.
The collaboration between Sky Perfect Jsat and research institution Riken resulted in the development of a satellite payload designed for space debris removal using laser ablation. The payload emits a laser beam that vaporizes/ionizes the surface of space debris, generating a pulse of energy capable of rotating and decelerating the object. This process allows the debris to slowly descend towards Earth’s atmosphere, where it burns. Orbital Lasers’ president and CEO, Tadanori Fukushima, revealed that sales would be aimed at both domestic and international companies involved in space debris removal.
The company asserted that its method of space debris removal, involving speeds of typically 7.5 kilometers per second, is safe due to the absence of physical contact. Additionally, the process eliminates the need for fuel to move the debris, resulting in cost savings. The newly established firm will also provide earth observation services utilizing LiDAR laser technology. This system, integrated into a satellite, employs lasers to scan a target, measuring the time taken for the light to travel to the target and back. A separate Satellite LiDAR system, distinct from the space debris removal laser, measures the height of various objects, including trees, buildings, and the Earth’s surface, to gather data for creating three-dimensional maps of the target area or object.
Referring to specific instances, Sky Perfect Jsat highlighted that Satellite LiDAR has versatile applications, including evaluating vegetation density and estimating the potential CO2 absorption capacity. Additionally, it can generate high-resolution maps of the Earth’s surface. The system finds utility in various domains such as development planning, infrastructure design, and cargo monitoring, including activities like dockside loading of iron ore and mining operations. Sky Perfect Jsat has entered into a contract with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (Jaxa) to explore the potential commercialization of earth observation LiDAR satellite systems. The company emphasized the crucial role of space-based services in disaster situations, providing a valuable means to assess damage extent and facilitate emergency communication.
“The increasing significance of space systems as essential infrastructure supporting the economy and society is expected to persist in the future,” the company emphasized.
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