Could Taking Down Zombie Satellites Be As Lucrative As Launching Them?

Tim Fernholz | Quartz | April 25, 2013

The European Space Agency’s conference on space junk, which just wrapped up in Germany, brought news both bad and good for the space industry.

The bad news: The $100 billion worth of satellites orbiting earth are in more danger than ever from space junk. The good news: There could be a business in cleaning up orbit paths for a fee.

At present, only 7% of the objects in earth’s orbit monitored by earth’s space agencies are functioning satellites. The remaining 93% of them—broken satellites, space rocks and satellite parts—represent a threat to working spacecraft. And even relatively small pieces of debris can damage satellites when they are moving at 15,000 mph.