The Boston Globe reports on a 25-person startup pursuing an unusual solution to the problem of space junk:

“Imagine if every car we ever created was just left on the road,” said aerospace entrepreneur Jeromy Grimmett. “That’s what we’re doing in space.” Grimmett’s tiny company, Rogue Space Systems Corp., has devised a daring solution. It’s building “orbots” — satellites with robotic arms that can fly right up to a disabled satellite and fix it. Or these orbots could use their arms to collect orbiting rubble left behind by hundreds of previous launches — dangerous junk that’s become a hazard to celestial navigation…

Rogue Space aims to catch up fast, with help from Small Business Technology Transfer funds from the SpaceWERX Orbital Prime initiative. Created by the U.S. Space Force, Orbital Prime seeks to build up U.S. private-sector firms that can protect national security by maintaining military satellites and clearing hazardous space debris.

Its first 10-pound, proof-of-concept satellite will launch later this year, the article points out, “to test sensors and software to confirm the system can identify and track other satellites.” But “the real excitement will begin later this year” when the company launches a prototype that’s four times larger that will “use maneuvering thrusters to test the extremely precise navigation needed to approach a satellite.”

And then in late 2024 or early 2025 the company will launch its 660-pound satellite “with robotic arms for fixing other satellites or for dragging debris to a lower orbit, where it will fall back to Earth.”