NASA has joined forces with space logistics startup TransAstra to develop an inflatable capture bag. This revolutionary technology, known as the TransAstra Worker Bee, can intercept space debris through two methods: using a bag-like approach or employing rigid manipulators.
This breakthrough was achieved under an $850,000 Phase 2 Small Business Innovation Research contract. The capture bag utilizes inflatable struts for enveloping noncooperative objects, revolutionizing the approach to orbital debris cleanup. It can retrieve a diverse range of objects, from cubesats to spent rocket bodies and defunct satellites.
Moreover, TransAstra is collaborating with ThinkOrbital to explore the possibility of constructing an orbital recycling plant, a development that could substantially reduce debris assembly time and propellant costs.