Elon Musk Has Ambitions For SpaceX's Starship But It'll Be A Space Janitor First

Elon Must has not made his ambitions to go to Mars a secret. When that time comes, SpaceX's Starship is expected to deliver the passengers. But for now, Starship is fulfilling other roles. One such role may be to clean up space.

The main purpose of SpaceX's Starship is to deliver people and things to space.

Starship is designed to deliver satellites into orbit more cost-effectively than our current methods. SpaceX has also scheduled the first private passenger flight to the moon. In 2023, Yasaku Maezeawa will be the first lunar passenger on Starship. But, trips to Mars are not yet scheduled.

Space junk is a growing problem for space travel.


There are 2,300 broken satellites currently orbiting Earth. The space junk can collide into each other further spreading the debris. Such collisions can damage other orbiting objects and create even more space junk. In total there are more than 8800 tonnes of junk in orbit.

In an interview with Time, SpaceX announced the plan to clean space junk.

Gwynne Shotwell, President and CEO of SpaceX, said in the interview (8:20):

"it's quite possible that we could leverage Starship to go to some of some of these dead rocket bodies — other people's rockets, of course — basically, go pick up some of this junk in outer space."

If space junk is not managed, we may lose the ability to have high-orbiting satellites.

The Kessler Syndrome is a theory proposed by a NASA scientist that suggests space junk can cause cascade failures. If a satellite breaks up in orbit, the debris could damage another satellite, which then damages another satellite, and on, and on, until finally, there is finally so much space junk that it is impossible for anything to enter orbit.

In the future, Starship is expected to routinely travel between Earth, the Moon and Mars.

These destinations will take Starship into higher orbits where many dead satellites still orbit the Earth. SpaceX is working on ways to remove that space junk while Starship is in higher orbits. If they are successful, we can avoid the Kessler Syndrome.

h/t: Space.com

Filed Under: