UK nuclear plant robots to clean up the big space mess!

The UK Atomic Energy Authority is working on a robotics solution, previously used in nuclear reactors, that could reduce space litter

Big Zero Report 2022

Robots used in nuclear power reactors could soon clean up debris in space.

Engineers at the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) have explored using remote-controlled robots to even repair a spacecraft in orbit.

The technology has been developed and tested at UKAEA’s Remote Applications in Challenging Environments robotics centre in Culham, Oxfordshire.

It is estimated that currently, around 6,000 satellites are in orbit around the Earth, but only 40% are operational.

Scientists believe that the space debris poses a danger to all spacecraft which have to perform manoeuvres to prevent collisions.

Jeremy Hadall, Robotics Development Lead at the Catapult, said: “Improving our ability to perform close-proximity operations in orbit with advanced robotics, will unlock a range of commercial opportunities in space, including debris removal, spacecraft servicing, and even the manufacture of large structures in orbit.”

Dr Indira Nagesh, Principal Engineer of UKAEA,​ commented: “Identifying technical challenges and solving them for in-orbit servicing and repair is exciting. It will greatly help to improve the longevity of spacecraft and reduce space litter.”

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