News, Culture and NPR for Central & Northern Michigan
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Marquette-based company awarded US Space Force contracts to clear space junk

Kall Morris, Inc.

The U.S. Space Force has awarded contracts to a Marquette company founded by three NMU alumni to research methods of clearing space junk from Earth’s orbit.

Troy Morris is co-founder and Director of Operations for Kall Morris, Inc. He says there are 47,000 trackable (objects larger than 10 cm) debris objects—amounting to 10 million kilograms of material—that threaten communications networks running all kinds of systems, such as for cell phones and airplanes.

“We saw it in Canada, just in July, where their network system went down for a few days and you couldn’t call 911 or the pizza place. You couldn’t fill up your tank or take a flight.”

Morris says with that much junk circling the globe, it’s only a matter of time before someone on the planet itself gets hit.

“There’s a 10-percent chance that there will be a casualty of space debris on the ground in the next decade.”

The contracts are worth $750,000. They’re to find out (in laypeople’s terms) how a good set of arms to grab debris can be made, how to stick something to an item in space so it can be tracked, and how a good orbit for a junkyard or collection spot for the debris can be identified.

KMI is working with Stanford, MIT, and the University of Southern California to determine the feasibility of technology to remediate the space debris problem. Morris says those projects will be completed by the end of the year, and the company is looking to develop prototypes next year. He hopes to actually have a mission within the next two years.