Turion Space, founded by an ex-SpaceX, Skunk Works, ATA, and Electroimpact team. Ryan Westerdahl, Tyler Pierce, and Patryk Wiatr formed Turion Space to tackle the ever-growing issue of space debris and the complex logistics of in-orbit satellite servicing. Turion Space recently joined YCombinator and participated in the YC S21 batch of companies.
Turion Space was formed with the vision of building the technology required for humanity’s interplanetary future. Their short-term goal is to solve the most significant threat to that vision – orbital debris. The exponential growth of spacecraft and launch vehicles entering Earth’s orbits has dramatically increased the risk of collisions. Even a small number of these conjunctions will lead to the inaccessibility of the final frontier. We are developing the technology to stabilize this threat. This challenge will also serve as a test-bed for future asteroid resource extraction.
From this Nasa article: “There are approximately 23,000 pieces of debris larger than a softball orbiting the Earth. They travel at speeds up to 17,500 mph, fast enough for a relatively small piece of orbital debris to damage a satellite or a spacecraft. There are half a million pieces of debris the size of a marble or larger (up to 0.4 inches, or 1 centimeter) or larger, and approximately 100 million pieces of debris about .04 inches (or one millimetre) and larger. There is even more smaller micrometer-sized (0.000039 of an inch in diameter) debris.
Even tiny paint flecks can damage a spacecraft when traveling at these velocities. A number of space shuttle windows were replaced because of damage caused by material that was analyzed and shown to be paint flecks. In fact, millimeter-sized orbital debris represents the highest mission-ending risk to most robotic spacecraft operating in low Earth orbit.”
Turion Space is building spacecraft to remove orbital debris and provide services to existing satellites. Turion Space’s spacecraft will rendezvous and dock with existing satellites as well as large debris objects using vision sensors and robotic arms. Utilizing the onboard propulsion system, the spacecraft will either deorbit or change the orbit of the debris object or satellite.
With an impressive set of advisors, including T.S. Kelso (creator and operator of CelesTrak), Wayne Alward Jr (Alnilam Space), and Kevin O’Connell (US Commerce Department’s Office of Space Commerce) the team is well placed to execute their vision and clean up the skies.