View all newsletters
Receive our newsletter - data, insights and analysis delivered to you
  1. Technology
  2. Data
May 26, 2020updated 15 Jul 2022 5:40am

Track Space Junk (Using AI), Win a Share of £1 Million

"For the first time ever, ESA has performed a 'collision avoidance manoeuvre"

By CBR Staff Writer

In order to improve its national space surveillance and tracking (SST) capability the UK Space Agency has launched a grant of £1 million to fund low cost approaches that will help monitor space junk with AI, or develop creative solutions to clear it from low orbit.

NASA estimates that currently there are more than 23,000 bits of debris larger than 10 centimetres in orbit, while a further 500,000 (ESA estimates this number to be 900,000) bits of debris between 1 and 10 centimetres in diameter are thought to be spinning in orbit.

Only a tiny proportion of this debris is tracked.

A major concern is that if two objects collide in low orbit they would do so at 17,000 mph, in an impact that would spread wreckage into the path of satellites or the International Space Station, causing an extensive debris field that would severely disrupt satellite communication networks and our ability to conduct further space endeavours.

With the new funding organisations can receive a maximum grant of £250,000 (out of a pot of just £1 million) to develop novel solutions that can help clear space debris in an effective low cost manner.

However, the grant is not solely limited to the clearance of space junk:  organisations can also bid for funding to develop AI models that help optimise existing orbital data which would help mitigate collision risks.

The grant is designed to increase the UK’s foothold in the space market. As the UK Space Agency states: “SST is a growing market with the current forecast potentially expected to reach over £100 million by 2035. With the demand for SST increasing, this provides an opportunity for the UK space industry to take a leading role in the sector.”

Content from our partners
Green for go: Transforming trade in the UK
Manufacturers are switching to personalised customer experience amid fierce competition
How many ends in end-to-end service orchestration?

Dr Alice Bunn international director of the UK Space Agency commented that: “We want the UK to be at the forefront of a new era of space where we continue to push boundaries while ensuring the growth is sustainable for all. Space debris is a global problem and this funding will enable UK companies to develop new methods to help tackle the issue. Growing our space surveillance and tracking capabilities will be crucial for UK space businesses to innovate.”

The scheme started today with a July 10, 2020 deadline for submissions.

Low Orbit Filling With Space Junk

Low orbit satellites operate within an altitude of 1,200 miles or less. In recent years it has gotten significantly cheaper to launch and maintain small communication or science based satellites within this orbit. A multitude of firms and countries are launching constellations into low orbit resulting in a congested pathways.

Last year for the ’first time ever’ the European Space Agency had to take quick action in order to stop one of its satellites being taken out by a SpaceX Starlink satellite.

SpaceX’s internet connectivity delivery satellite constellation Starlink currently has 120 low-orbit satellites in place, with SpaceX planning to launch thousands more in the coming years. The firm’s Starlink constellation has already come under fire from astronomers around the world as it is clearly visible even at this nascent stage of its deployment.

https://twitter.com/ClaraMarvaz/status/1196356715270291456

See Also: The Biggest Cause of Data Breaches is (Again) Frustratingly Banal

Websites in our network
Select and enter your corporate email address Tech Monitor's research, insight and analysis examines the frontiers of digital transformation to help tech leaders navigate the future. Our Changelog newsletter delivers our best work to your inbox every week.
  • CIO
  • CTO
  • CISO
  • CSO
  • CFO
  • CDO
  • CEO
  • Architect Founder
  • MD
  • Director
  • Manager
  • Other
Visit our privacy policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications. Our services are intended for corporate subscribers and you warrant that the email address submitted is your corporate email address.
THANK YOU