Class blog for sharing and commenting on current events in biology.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Connor Barrett
AP Bio
Current Event 9

Fackler, Martin. "Space’s Trash Collector? A Japanese Entrepreneur Wants the Job." The New York Times. The New York Times, 28 Nov. 2016. Web. 29 Nov. 2016.

Martin Fackler’s article in the New York Times, titled "Space’s Trash Collector? A Japanese Entrepreneur Wants the Job” discusses how a Japanese company named Astroscale is pushing to be the first waste management company in space. Astroscale, headed by Mitsunobu Okada, was launched three years ago to get working on a problem he believed could be tackled better by a small company than the national space organizations of the world. “Let’s face it, waste management isn’t sexy enough for a space agency to convince taxpayers to allocate money,” Mr. Okada said. Space is growing ever more dangerous as debris from discarded equipment is distributed by the minute. In the ever so calculated world as rocket science every small detail matters and costly damage can be done by small fragments of debris. As more companies move to space and low orbit becomes more crowded chain reactions could cause massive destruction and render low orbits unusable. Okada plans to profit from his debris clean up by first collecting valuable data on debris density and selling it. The actual debris clean up will come later in the form of satellites that collect debris then fall out of orbit - burning themselves and the debris in the process. Eventually they will target their client’s specific debris and make money that way.
As space travel becomes more and more popular it is important that these less glamorous but just as important issues are solved. Okada’s startup is a smart company at the forefront of a up and coming private field with an extremely specialized and critical role. Because of their headstart in this niche of the industry they are sure to grow as long as they can accomplish what they say. While we think of space as a vast open space a large portion of satellites and other spacecraft are located in the same or similar orbits. This vastly narrows down the size of the space that engineers and planners have to work with and makes it ever so important that it remains clear of debris. In addition, as we develop our space technology we will come to rely on it more and more - raising the stakes if an accident were to ever occur.

I found the article to be fascinating and informative. The way in which the author presented the piece was well done.  It would have been nice to hear if the company has any competitors or what a critic of Mr. Okada’s company had to say on the matter because there was no opposing viewpoint given. Overall the author did a great job introducing a new subset of a growing field.