Debris Hopper Program Approved
Date May 19, 2028
Internal Name debris_hopper

May 19th, 2028:

Debris Hopper Program Approved By Global Senate -

As you all know, fourteen months ago two Russian cosmonauts were killed when the ZAT-2 Station was destroyed by a piece of orbital debris - or "space garbage" - which ruptured the station's hull and caused a fire to spread. Eight months before that the unmanned EOTA-9, a German communications satellite, was also destroyed by random debris. Two months before that was the in-standby GOES-12.

Instep Global Industries. One month following the destruction of ZAT-2, Global came forward and proposed a program they had been slowly developing for several years in secret but never considered it a priority until ZAT-2. They called it "Project Debris Hopper" and said it would be operational by early 2028.

Seven shuttles were launched on February 12th, 2028, each carrying a payload of 50 Debris Hoppers which were then released into orbit. Each Debris Hopper weighs about 12 kilograms and is capable of 'capturing' small pieces or landing onto larger pieces of orbital debris. Using rechargeable thrusters and a sail system, the Hopper can then slow down the speed by which the object is orbiting. Slow it down enough and just as the object breaks orbit and falls into the atmosphere, the Hopper detaches itself and continues to its next target. Each Hopper uses information gathered by scanner satellites in order to automatically perform their function with very little effort required by controllers on Earth.

It's now been three months since launch and things are looking good says Global Industries lead scientist on the Debris Hopper program, Matt Laurie: "An estimated 5,000 pieces of debris have so-far been removed from orbit with only the destruction of fifteen Hoppers to show for it. We estimate that within the next ten to fifteen years we'll see an end to the orbital debris problem."

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