Privateer is a startup space firm that was co-founded by Apple’s Steve Wozniak. The company introduced several of its planned services in March 2022. Among the many interests of the firm is to decrease the rate of junked debris hovering in space.
Wozniak’s Privateer Startup Makes Initiative to Reduce Space Junks
(Photo : Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images for Discover)
MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA – JANUARY 17: Co-founder of Apple Steve Wozniak addresses the audience during Science Channel’s “Silicon Valley: The Untold Story” Screening at Computer History Museum on January 17, 2018 in Mountain View, California.
According to Wozniak’s team, the firm targets to develop solutions that would help eliminate space junks from low-Earth orbit. The company suggests that police traffic of satellites and debris would regulate space junks hovering in space.
In addition, Privateer aims to construct service satellites to help other businesses and space agencies minimize their satellite usage and decrease the launches, which are the top producers of discarded debris in orbit.
Privateer was conceptualized by space environmentalist and University of Texas orbital mechanics specialist Moriba Jah. The expert has been part of larger projects to end the space junk problem.
Together with Wozniak and engineering expert Alex Fielding, Privateer was established. Last March, the firm introduced one of its first products called ‘Wayfinder.’ This system can be utilized by Earth-based users to track and visualize satellites, as well as space debris, that is currently hovering in orbit.
Jah explained in a report by Inverse that their startup hopes to be the first foundation of information that makes people safe in orbit, promotes a long-term sustainable solution for the space environment, and make people out there more secure.
Wayfinder is a technology that could help people understand more about the current status of Earth’s orbital environment, the discarded satellites, and the junks that resulted from concluded missions.
Current State of Space Debris in Earth’s Orbit
According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, the combined satellite launches from private space firms and government agencies totaled over 1,700 in 2021 only. By the end of the same year, the collective satellites hovering in space counted more than 4,800. This satellite population doubled the number of instruments in orbit recorded in 2018.
SpaceX’s Starlink internet services have more than 2,000 satellites in space, and this mega constellation is expected to be added with more pieces in the future. Starlink’s European counterpart OneWeb already launched 428 satellites up in space and is expected to gain another 200 more. Amazon’s Project Kuiper, in addition, plans to deploy over 3,000 pieces in orbit.
The European Space Agency analyzed that over 36,500 space debris measuring 10 centimeters and over are currently floating around our planet. About 30,000 of these junks are being tracked, but the remaining pieces are yet to be found from orbit.
NASA explained that smaller garbage, even those that scale to specks, could likely bring damage to spacecraft traveling in space. Alongside ESA’s estimates, there are more than 100,000 space junks present in orbit, each measuring lower than 10 centimeters.
In addition to Wayfinder, Privateer plans to launch a supporting project called ‘Resslek.’ This service focuses on conjunction management that relays traffic information from space to government agencies and other enterprises. Resslek is specialized to know the detailed trajectory of satellites and predict collision courses.