Rogue Space Systems Corp. is tasked with clearing debris in low earth orbit.
The New Hampshire-based company is developing an orbital robot (called an orbot) that will enable the safe removal of space debris. Its main his robot, Fred, is designed to move satellites and other assets into and out of various orbits.
Jeromy Grimmett, Founder and CEO of Rogue Space Systems, said: Ltd.
He estimates that he has cataloged between 23,000 and 25,000 known objects. But there are hundreds of thousands of objects that we cannot see. “Nuts, bolts, astronaut gloves, Tic Tac cases…that means all sorts of things are floating in space because of human presence.”
Grimmet described how to prevent objects from tumbling to Earth using an all-magnet being developed through a partnership with the University of Utah. The technology allows the controller to manipulate even non-magnetic objects in space, allowing six degrees of movement, he explained. Composed of electromagnets, Omni-Magnet technology creates a magnetic field that synchronizes its trajectory with the target’s debris.
But Rogue Space Systems has a long-term vision that includes more than removing space debris. Building tools to address the problem of space junk is part of the company’s strategic move to tackle the growing global space market. Grimmet said one of his goals is to become an interplanetary services company that encompasses everything from transportation to telecom trading.
The company seized the opportunity to apply for state funding for space innovations and services in 2021. This comes after General David D. Thompson, the U.S. Space Force’s deputy chief of space operations, said private companies that could provide solutions could be funded. To address space debris mitigation.
Since 2010, official US policy has made clear the need to preserve the space environment and minimize the creation of man-made debris.
“We want to be the infrastructure that supports and enables the space economy,” said Grimmett. “It won’t happen overnight, but we’re going to get there. Rogue will be there as commercial business and U.S. national interests grow in space between the Moon and Mars.”
In the following edited version of the three-part video interview, mechanical designGrimmett outlined why he believes space junk has become a “national security emergency” to be addressed.
mechanical design: Jeromy, you are navigating part of the space industry. But you are changing all that. Tell us about your work and the solutions you offer.
Jerome Grimmett: We are building an orbital robot to process space junk. It is primarily a satellite service. When we first started Rogue, we founded the company around the idea of dealing with space debris and space junk. But it soon became clear that there was no market for it. Until late 2020 or early 2021, when General Thompson, the U.S. Space Command’s deputy chief of space operations, said he would pay a commercial company to deal with space debris, no one was there to solve the problem. did not pay for
Now this is a big shift from the norm of the last few years and through it again. So we started with Space Junk. We’ve pivoted to satellite services, which is akin to space junk, satellite capture and repair, refueling, power upgrades, and the like. We pivoted to space debris again, so we never stopped working on it. It’s just been brought to the forefront through the Space Force’s demands on industry that we get in there and start helping solve that problem.
MD: For those less familiar with what’s going on in Earth’s orbit, take us into that universe.
JG: If you go to https://sky.rogue.space you’ll see what it looks like in orbit around the earth, all the different objects out there… So all these things we know And there are all the other things we don’t know because our radars aren’t good enough and our ground-based measurement systems aren’t good enough to detect them. Aggregate data from multiple sources to try to create a
MD: We are witnessing this onslaught of commercial space traffic. I read more about it. How could more space activity exacerbate the problem?
JG: Congress is trying to do something to remedy the situation, and in this particular case, government regulation would probably go a long way. So, as long as it goes off orbit in 25 years, you’re good to go. No one is really going to say much. However, there is no enforcement mechanism and no fines. Nothing compels the company to remove its satellites. They leave this stuff alone because there’s really no penalty and it costs a lot to lower it.
I am very excited to see what the government and Congress will do regarding space debris. They are trying to do something. In my opinion, it is a national security imperative that we address. With the acceleration of commercial space, one interesting fact is that in 2021 more mass has been sent into space in one year than all of the last 70 years of space exploration combined. It’s a dangerous place.
now we have a starship [a fully-reusable, super-heavy-lift launch vehicle under development by aerospace manufacturer SpaceX]It’s getting closer and guess what? That means it can load tens of thousands of tons of cargo and carry it into space. I think SpaceX is on pace to launch 50-55 rockets this year. They’re on an intense trend, putting more and more mass into the universe, and it’s no surprise they’ll be significantly ahead of 2021. And when the Starship goes into service, things only get worse.
MD: Tell me about the orbot program. What is Fred? What is Orbot and what are its functions?
JG: Orbital robots are effectively satellites that can go out and deal with problems autonomously.
They aren’t going to be fully autonomous anytime soon. But that’s the goal. Developing a fully autonomous spacecraft capable of handling space debris. Attaching something to an aging spacecraft to increase its drag, deorbiting it faster, or examining objects in space to find out what’s going on and what’s wrong. I can.
I have a series of orbots. The first one is called Barry. He is a very small robot used for testing and demonstrating technology. Then there’s Laura, an inspection and observation satellite spacecraft. Then there’s Charlie, the robot-enabled spacecraft, which is a little bigger, weighing in at around 150-200 kilograms.
And the Fred you asked about is a fairly large 325-kilogram spacecraft. 4 robot arms. When fully unfolded, it looks like a hornet. It’s pretty cool looking. It also has a very sophisticated set of sensors that it uses to do a lot of detection and understand its surroundings.
MD: What’s Fred’s purpose after he’s on track?
JM: Small Orbots can be transported on Earth and moved to wherever they need to be inspected, observed, or placed around anything. Fred also has the ability to grab things, stick to things and move them around, attach other things to other objects, and crumble objects in space.
Nothing in space is static. They don’t just sit there. Given the influence of the Earth and the gravitational force and the solar wind, they actually start spinning and moving on different axes. That said, we need to be able to take things like that apart, and that’s why we’re investigating omnimagnet technology with the University of Utah.
Fred’s purpose is basically to be a tow truck, a forklift truck and a mobile repair shop. Because, depending on the situation, the robot can even change the tool at the end of his arm.
We are actively following Fred by trying to put it into space by the end of 2023/early 2024. It’s a very aggressive timeline, but it’s a fun goal to see if you can succeed.
MD: Please tell us about the sensory observation technology platform that utilizes AI.
JG: To understand what is going on, we need to aggregate all the sensors the spacecraft is using and all the sensor inputs. Everything from radar to LiDAR to ranging to all cameras. Everything needs to come together to form a clear contextual picture of what is around, what is in motion, what is not and where it is in relation to the target. This is a very complex problem that must be resolved.
Orbot’s service requires that aggregation. We do not always have real-time access to spacecraft to formulate decisions for safe operations in space. If something goes wrong, Orbot will say, “Wait a minute, this is wrong. I need to back off. Then I can detach from that object.”
MD: Can you elaborate on the concept of omnimagnet and how the technology works?
JG: That’s some real Star Trek stuff. As you may know, any metal is subject to electromagnetic waves. some more than others. For example, iron at the end of the spectrum has a strong influence. Aluminum and copper are less so, but still effective. Omnimagnets project magnetic fields, and eddy currents generated by these fields can pass through the metal inside the object and actually affect it over time.
So one of the dirty secrets of space debris and space debris removal that no one wants to talk about except Rogue is: If you fly into a spaceship, or into an object in space, and it’s spinning and spinning, you’ll need to bring your orbot there. Approach and grab to safety. Well, it’s very expensive from a fuel standpoint and almost impossible to do.
When shooting with a harpoon, the mass of this object and its speed of movement grab the Orbot. I can twirl it around, and we wreak havoc. Shooting at the net leaves the same problem, but perhaps some extra debris breaks off and gets dragged along. I’m here.
Magnetic eddy currents and all-magnetic bodies solve this problem because they do not need to touch the object. It can walk away, it can project a magnetic field, and it can slow down the spin on those six axes over time, so you can safely approach it, grab it, attach a drag line, attach a drag stream. increase. It then decays naturally into the upper atmosphere. It’s a safe, sustainable, and wreck-free way to solve problems.
Rogue happens to partner with the University of Utah to do just that. Already lab proven. it works. It’s real. This is scientific fact, not science fiction. This is a beautiful and brilliant combination of physics and his AI/machine learning and robotics. It’s a really elegant solution.
View Part 1: Satellite Garbage Collectors: Space Debris Policy
View Part 2: Orbots: Out of Science Fiction into Action
View Part 3: The Next Frontier: Space Rejection Systems and Satellite Services