MARQUETTE, Mich. (WJMN) – When we think of space, we might often think of the planets, the moon, and stars. Humans have been launching satellites into space for decades. But, what happens when those satellites leave their debris in orbit?
Kall Morris Inc. (KMI) is a company researching the impact of space debris on existing satellites, and developing a way to remove the debris from space.
The company was formed by three Northern Michigan University alumni: Adam Kall, and brothers Troy and Austin Morris.
“Space debris has been up in orbit since we put the first satellites because it doesn’t really come down,” said Troy Morris, the director of operations at KMI. “It will in some parts, but the problem is with all the new things we keep putting up there: new satellites, new communications, internet, weather prediction. All these wonderful things of our modern society, they sometimes drop bolts or rocket bodies or little pieces of junk. There’s just nothing or no one up there to clean up.”
Satellites can often leave behind pieces of its structures into orbit, especially if it’s been in space for long periods of time. This debris can collide with other working satellites, which can damage or even destroy the satellites. As of today, there are thousands of tractable pieces of debris in orbit. The exponential growth of space debris could cause bigger issues in the coming years.
“Space debris right now is a risk to a single satellite,” said Adam Kall, the director of technology at KMI. “If it grows, it becomes a risk to all of them. The worry is not debris destroys one satellite. The worry is that debris destroys all of them. That’s what the exponential growth, known as Kessler Syndrome, is. It’s essentially a blanket of debris that makes any satellite in orbit be destroyed within weeks or months of being put up there.”
KMI is one of the few companies in the world focusing on ways to eliminate space debris. It is working with other space debris-focused companies in Japan and Switzerland. All are in collaboration with NASA, the European Space Agency, and other space entities.
The founders of KMI have chosen Marquette as its main location for research and development. This is due to the area’s low light pollution, cost-effectiveness, and the hopes of bringing more aerospace careers to the U.P.
“We want to, as mentioned, develop and foster some of that industry here in Marquette,” said Austin Morris, the director of engineering at KMI. “And have some vertical integration and eventually develop a lot of that in-house in this area and create those jobs so that we can have people graduating from NMU or from Tech or LSSU or wherever, and staying in the U.P. to do those high tech jobs.”
The company said space debris should be taken as seriously as climate change and pollution here on Earth.
“That’s why we’re trying to deal with space debris now, before it seems like a huge problem. Because if you do wait until it is a huge problem, you’re one step away from it being a crisis,” said Kall.
KMI is in its beginning phases of research and hopes to receive federal, state, or private funding to further its development.
For more information on Kall Morris Inc, you can visit its website.