Department of National Defence & Canadian Armed Forces
Collision Course – Tracking and De-orbiting Space Debris
The Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces (DND/CAF) are looking for viable and cost-effective solutions for tracking and de-orbiting space debris in order to reduce the collision threat for orbiting space systems.
Background and Context
While “space debris” technically includes asteroids, comets and meteoroids, this challenge refers specifically to orbit debris, space junk, space waste, space trash, space litter or space garbage, as well as fragments from their disintegration and collisions. Space surveillance networks regularly track about 22,300 debris objects in earth orbits, totaling more than 8,400 tonnes, which includes 1,950 operational satellites. As of January 2019, the total number of debris objects that are estimated by statistical models to be in earth orbits are 34,000 (greater than 10 cm); 900,000 objects (1 cm to 10 cm); and 128 million objects (1 mm to 1 cm)1.
When in Earth orbits, space debris pose a risk of collision with space vehicles, humans, and even with other debris. The hazards posed by debris collisions include erosion to hulls, solar panels and optics; fragmentation leading to rapid increases in the total population of space debris; total loss of a vehicle and/or an asset; and major injury and/or loss of human life. Space debris will grow as the number of human-made objects in Earth orbits increase over time.
There are no operational debris removal capabilities in use, globally, and existing prototypes lack important capabilities and have proven ineffective. For instance, there is a need to capture and deorbit multiple pieces of debris per clean-up effort or the capability becomes extremely expensive; as well, capabilities are needed to track and capture space debris smaller than 10cm or larger than the capturing vehicle (e.g., rocket bodies).
The DND/CAF is looking for innovative space debris solutions for one or more of the following:
- Reliable and robust solutions for tracking space debris below the 10cm diameter size;
- Concepts, designs or prototypes for deorbiting multiple pieces of debris of any size.
Maximum Funding and Performance Period
Multiple contracts could result from this Challenge.
The individual maximum contract funding available under Competitive Projects – Component 1a is up to $200,000 CAD [$170,412 USD] (excluding applicable taxes) for a maximum performance period of up to 6 months.
This disclosure is made in good faith and does not commit Canada to contract for the total approximate funding.