Space Debris Cleanup – Rosie the Robot?

Turion Space, a startup out of California, won a $1.9 million U.S. Space Force contract to develop a family of spacecraft that will perform autonomous docking and deorbiting capabilities to engage uncooperative/inactive space objects and satellites. This novel idea will feature a Droid mothership which will host smaller satellites known as micro-DROIDs. The mothership will serve as a docking station and provide coordination for Rendezvous and Proximity Operations (RPO). These micro-DROIDs will be built to grab objects and space debris in space. It is expected to have 45 satellites produced annually by 2027. A demonstration of this mothership and micro-DROID hosting is set to be seen as early as 2026.

Turion’s CEO highlighted the need for operational space domain awareness and that will be improved upon with the removal of huge legacy systems that are non-maneuverable. Turion did not mention how they plan the secure these micro-DROIDs from threat actors infiltrating this system. There was also no mention of how an “infected” micro-DROID would be handled and how that satellite would be separated or stopped from “infecting” the mothership.

On a smaller level of concern, I am curious to know how Turion plans to prevent their own micro-DROIDs from being space debris that needs to be cleaned up upon decommissioning or End-of-Life (EOL).

Turion’s vision is to provide space debris removal service since this is currently a widening gap within the space industry. On a semi-unrelate note, this space debris cleanup proposal reminds me of Rosie the Robot from the Jetsons Family…cleaning up all the inactive satellites.

Picture of Rosie the Robot taken from