OneWeb Satellites, the joint-venture between OneWeb and satellite builder Airbus, is adopting a low-cost magnetic ‘grappling fixture’ solution to potential space debris.
Developed by Altius Space Machines, RUAG Space USA and Astroscale, and nicknamed ‘DogTags’, the fixture creates an easy interface that enables safe and reliable capture of satellites by the broadest range of capture methodologies possible. “We are proud to be supplying OneWeb Satellites and OneWeb with our DogTag grapple fixture to help them achieve their commitment as a responsible space partner,” said Altius Space Machines CEO Jonathan Goff.
OneWeb Satellites CEO Tony Gingiss added: “OneWeb Satellites has dramatically reduced the cost and speed of satellite manufacturing, making space far more accessible. As a result, thousands of new satellites – both our own and our competitors’ – will be launched in the coming years. From its inception, OneWeb Satellites has also committed to doing its part to ensure we help keep space clean. Our partnership with Altius and RUAG for the grappling interface is one more concrete step in fulfilment of that commitment.”
The device is fixed to a surface of the OneWeb satellites and in such a position that a rescue craft (often called a ‘space tug’) in orbit can easily locate the satellite’s DogTag and capture the craft.
In a statement, OneWeb said: “While OneWeb does not anticipate a need to service its satellites, we are committed to the belief that the entire space industry bears a shared responsibility for technological innovations that protect the orbital environment. The adoption of grappling technologies helps to ensure that this frontier in mobility, communication and connectivity remains as a vital resource for the long-term.”
OneWeb is due to launch around 35 new satellites into orbit at the end of January.