The Apple co-founder plans to disrupt a new industry: the longstanding effort to clean up dangerous space junk.
Steve Wozniak said he plans to make a private space company “different from the rest” in a cryptic tweet on Sunday (September 12). The tweet included a link mocking his planned company, called Privateer Space.
The company is in stealth mode and therefore we know little about its business model, potential customers, and potential sources of revenue. Wozniak, who played a key role in the development of Apple I and many early-stage company products, has a reported net worth of $ 100 million. As such, you are likely to be a great investor early in the business.
However, the trailer aims to impress, although it has a vague focus. One narrator boldly summarizes the company’s vision amid dazzling archival photographs of space flight and climate change. “This is not a race. It is not a competition. Or a game. We are not a person, a company, a nation. We are a planet,” the video states, without clearly clarifying what the company plans to do. .
Related: 7 Wild Ways To Destroy Orbital Debris
The Independent reports that at least one person from Apple will be on board. “The company was founded together with Alex Fielding, who was a member of the first iMac team and founded ‘Wheels of Zeus’ (‘WoZ’) in 2002,” the report states, referring to a company that made wireless location trackers.
Woz turns out to be the industry nickname for Wozniak. By the way, the stock symbol WOZX, which was listed for the first time in 2020, refers to a cryptocurrency company (Efforce) in which Wozniak also participates.
More details on Privateer Space will have to wait, as the official website doesn’t say much either. More details are said to be released at the Advanced Maui Optical and Space Surveillance Technologies (AMOS) conference, which is currently taking place in Hawaii and will end on Friday (September 17).
Wozniak’s timing to enter the orbital debris industry is interesting, as companies like SpaceX and Amazon plan to launch thousands of satellites for broadband constellations. While the plan is to increase internet availability in remote areas, the downside is an increased risk of satellite collisions (not to mention possible sky pollution from constant streaks).
In August, a leading European space expert on space debris (Hugh Lewis, director of the Astronautical Research Group at the University of Southampton, UK) noted that more than half of “close encounters” or at-risk encounters between satellites are due to to Starlink from SpaceX alone. More dangerous encounters can arise as the number of satellites increases.
The most notorious space debris incident took place in February 2009, when the operational communications satellite Iridium 33 exploded into pieces after a defunct Russian military spacecraft Kosmos-2251 crashed into it. That collision created an incredible 1,800 pieces of traceable debris for the following October. Collisions still occur periodically, including a Chinese satellite that was hit and deactivated by a Russian rocket in March 2021.
A private space company is starting up, unlike the others. https://t.co/6s8J32mjuF September 13, 2021
With more than 20,000 pieces of space junk in orbit accumulated since launches began in 1957, Gizmodo notes that it is a growing problem that will require a major solution, perhaps beyond what the United States government can do at this time.
“Last year, former NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine urged Congress to fund a $ 15 million cleanup mission, tweeting:” In the past 2 weeks, there have been 3 potential conjunctions of great concern. The debris is getting worse, “wrote Gizmodo.” The most recent space funding bill, which has passed the Senate, has not reserved those funds, but directs the Office of Science and Technology Policy to assess the situation. “
Other space junk cleanup efforts remain at an early stage, despite bold ideas ranging from lasers to towing offensive parts. That said, startup Astroscale has a small-scale cleaning trial underway with magnets after its launch in early 2021.
Follow Elizabeth Howell on Twitter @howellspace. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.