A robot on a huge network is collecting trash orbiting in space, which was set in low Earth orbit on Tuesday by a Chinese asteroid mining startup.
The spacecraft named NEO-01 was launched with the Long March-6 launch vehicle. The 30-kilogram robot, whose tasks also include observing celestial objects in deep space, was developed by Origin Space in Shenzhen, southern China.
The company says the prototype will pave the way for future technologies that can be used for asteroid mining.
Since its founding in 2009, Planetary Resources, the world’s first asteroid mining company, has formed more than a dozen similar companies worldwide, including 3D Systems, also in the United States, and Astroscale in Japan.
Unlike the Astroscale technology that collects space debris through a magnet,
NEO-01 captures space debris with a huge net, then burns it with an electric propulsion system.
To date, thousands of satellites have been launched worldwide. At the end of their service, most of them become unwanted, which poses a threat to working satellites. Origin Space plans to launch dozens of space telescopes and spacecraft in the future to be the first to start commercial mining on asteroids by 2045.
China is working with steam to deliver a spacecraft to the surface of a close-to-Earth asteroid to collect samples, and plans to build a defense system against this type of asteroid, the Xinhua News Agency reported. The East Asian country aims to have a large space force by 2030, to catch up with Russia and the United States.
Cover photo illustration.