The Defense Innovation Unit is funding space projects that the agency hopes will spur commercial investments in satellite refueling technologies and support services for geostationary satellites.
Millennium Space Systems announced Aug. 23 it successfully demonstrated the use of a deployable tether to de-orbit a satellite after it completes its mission.
Tethers Unlimited’s Terminator Tape lowered a cubesat into Earth’s atmosphere in eight months, while a nearly identical satellite without a 70-meter conductive tail is expected to remain in orbit for more than a decade.
A tethered cubesat is projected to reenter the Earth’s atmosphere and burn up within six weeks whereas an untethered one could take up to nine years.
Hoyt said observations from the U.S. military’s Space Surveillance Network showed the Prox-1 satellite deorbiting more than 24 times faster than before deploying the tape.