March 3, 2024 at 3:41 pm

Japanese Startup EX-Fusion Wants To Use Giant Lasers To Shoot Down Space Junk

by Trisha Leigh

Source: Shutterstock

Junk is everywhere – and most of it seems to be humanity’s fault. The air is dirty, the water is full of plastic, and the oceans have islands made out of actual garbage.

That said, we’re not responsible for the “junk” in space.

At least, not all of it.

That said, a Japanese startup called EX-Fusion says they have a plan for taking care of it.

They want to shoot it down using laser beams.

The company plans to use a type of laser known as diode-pumped solid-state laser beam to encourage junk out of our near-Earth orbit and into a safe area where it can burn up at its leisure.

Unlike other companies who have made similar suggestions, though EX-Fusion thinks they can accomplish this from Earth, rather than mounting said lasers on satellites.

Source: Shutterstock

EX-Fusion CEO Kazuki Matsuo believes their company has an edge because they’ve worked with nuclear fusion in the past.

“The power of a laser for destroying space junk is an order of magnitude lower than for nuclear fusion, but they share technical challenges such as controlling them via special mirrors.”

First, they’ve install a laser at a Canberra observatory. They’ll work with an Australian firm, EOS Space, and that collaboration is already in the works.

They plan to set up a less-powerful laser that will track space junk smaller than four inches. Previously, junk of that size has been difficult for ground-based lasers to track.

Then, they’ll power up a laser and see if it can hit its selected target. The idea is that the laser beam will push a piece of space debris off course until it slows down enough to fall into the atmosphere.

Their timeline is unclear, but NASA has acknowledged that their technology and plan have merit. They’ve also acknowledged that space debris is a serious issue – one that needs solved no matter who comes up with the winning idea.

Currently, astronauts and engineers alike worry about the safety of the International Space Station and the ability of new satellites to be settled into orbit.

Source: Shutterstock

The junk could also force us to stop space travel, or it could fall to Earth in a less desirable location.

So, it’s great that more than one company is looking to solve the issue in different ways.

It sounds like the sooner the better.

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