Japan’s war on space junk

AIOI, Feb 08 (Nikkei) - On a quiet day at work around 10 years ago, Tadanori Fukushima started receiving alarming email messages from a sender he did not recognize. The emails warned that his company's broadcasting satellite -- worth roughly $150 million -- was on a collision course with an unidentified object. The sender turned out to be the U.S. Air Force.

It was the first but not the last brush Fukushima and his employer, Sky Perfect JSAT, Asia’s largest satellite operator, has had with space junk. Unsure of what to do, he contacted a private observatory, which confirmed that an object was indeed approaching the satellite. There was little anyone could do. In the end, the object passed by harmlessly.

It was this incident that prompted Fukushima to take the threat of space junk seriously. A decade later, he now heads the company’s new space debris removal project, which keeps track of its satellites and the space junk that might threaten them.

Sky Perfect has more than a dozen geostationary satellites that provide satellite broadcasting and telecommunication services across Asia-Pacific. ...continue reading