State-funded firm Russian Space Systems has presented the concept and characteristics of their latest development — a satellite capable of devouring the remains of its own kind littering the Earth's orbit. In the course of one full operational cycle, the satellite can recycle up to 500 kilograms of space debris, the developers indicated. What is more, it will use recycled trash as operational fuel.
The 2.5 tonne satellite will be sent into the lower orbits at a height of around 400 kilometres, where it will find its first prey, grab it using a two-section titan net, compress it and then grind it into dust. The latter will be mixed into a so-called pseudo-liquid fuel using oxygen and hydrogen gases that in turn will be generated by the satellite itself using a processor that regenerates water.
As the satellite inventor Maria Barkova puts it, her invention will basically act as a space "predator" — feeding on other satellites to move further into higher and more littered orbits. This will allow for a reduction in deployment costs, as it won't require additional stages to be sent into lower orbit.