Japanese startup EX-Fusion will destroy space debris using a ground-based laser system

Osaka-based startup EX-Fusion plans to develop a ground-based laser system to destroy space debris. The innovative approach, if successful, could be a valuable way to clean up the increasingly crowded space around our planet, Interesting Engineering writes.

The system will work as follows: EX-Fusion will track objects up to 10 cm in size in orbit. Once detected, the laser will fire at the object, but in the opposite direction of its movement. This should stop the object, after which it will enter the upper layers of the Earth’s atmosphere, where it will immediately burn up.

EOS Space vice president James Bennett explained to Nikkei Asia that space debris removal lasers are not the same as combat lasers. Lasers for combat use have much in common with welding machines and affect an object by continuously heating it.

The EX-Fusion technology will use a diode-pumped solid-state laser that stops debris with a pulse. This laser can be directed by mirrors.

Space debris is already used objects in Earth orbit, such as old satellites and spent rocket stages. These objects can vary in size and pose collision risks with active spacecraft. Even debris as small as a few millimeters can cause problems when it collides with satellites and spacecraft.

As a result, the need to track and remove small space debris is growing as space activities expand around the world. For example, Nikkei Asia reports that Tokyo-based startup Astroscale Holdings plans to launch a special satellite to remove relatively large space debris.

The Japanese company Sky Perfect JSAT is working with Riken and other partners to develop a satellite laser that redirects space debris into the Earth’s atmosphere, where it burns up.

Recently, Japan has been paying more and more attention to the factor of space pollution of our planet. These include the development and launch of the first wood satellite and the launch of the inspector satellite to study large objects in Earth orbit.