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President Trump Signed a Directive Aimed at Removing Space Debris

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U.S President Donald Trump signed the third space directive of his presidency on Monday. It will, it is hoped, will nudge the Defense Department and the Commerce Department to step up the United States’ ability to track objects in space and destroy them if necessary. The U.S. military is already tracking more than 23,000 objects in space around the Earth. AGI Vice President Travis Langster told CNBC in March that the current public catalogs “only account for about 4 percent of the objects in space around the Earth.” The vision was laid out by Vice President Mike Pence and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. Pence said in April that the National Space Council was sending “the first comprehensive space traffic management policy” for Trump to sign.

This new policy directs the Department of Commerce to provide a basic level of space situational awareness, for public and private use, based on the space catalog compiled by the Department of Defense.  – Mike Pence

The third space directive calls forth all the available public and private resources to jointly combat the issue of space junk and the Commerce Department “will make space safety data and services” available to the public. However, there is no time frame to implement any of the guidelines mentioned in the directive.

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From the 2000s, both commercial and military entities are working together to solve the problem of growing space debris. With the help of today’s technology, it is now possible to track objects in space about the size of 10 centimeters. Lockheed Martin has been testing his new programme called Space Fence for the U.S Air Force and he is nearly done with it. It could improve the Air Force’s catalog of objects in space ten-fold from what it is today. SpaceX is testing the first satellites and it will gradually develop into a constellation of more than 4,425 satellites.

Satellite operators Telesat, Boeing, OneWeb, EarthNow and more have raised billions of dollars towards building constellations.

Space is becoming an increasingly congested environment … particularly now with SpaceX, One Web and Boeing, among others, putting constellations up. – Schafhauser

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Space Fence is expected to go online in 2019. Companies focused on space debris now make up 2 percent of the $350 billion space industry. “As more and more launches occur, more and more satellites reach the end of their life, that’s going to be a problem we have to deal with,” Ross said in April.

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