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Elon Musk says upcoming SpaceX Starship can ‘fly around space and chomp up debris’

·2-min read
 (Ritzau Scanpix/AFP via Getty Images)
(Ritzau Scanpix/AFP via Getty Images)

Elon Musk says SpaceX can fly around space and “chomp up debris” with its upcoming Starship craft.

Starship is central to many of SpaceX’s aims, and continues to be under development. It hopes to eventually use it to carry people to space, the Moon and further, and it has conducted a number of often spectacular tests.

But it comes at the same time as SpaceX and other companies face criticism over their contribution to “space debris”, which can block out the view of the sky and poses a threat as it fills up the sky. Numerous experts have warned that the growing number of satellites and other materials above the Earth could possibly cause a disastrous collision.

Its Starlink space internet satellites, for instance, have faced both criticism and risk from the increasing number of satellites they share the sky with. They have been attacked by astronomers who argue that they are crowding out the view of the sky, and have been forced to change orbit to avoid the risk of collisions.

But Mr Musk has said on Twitter that the company could also help fix that problem, using its Starship to pick up that litter from the sky.

Asked on Twitter about whether SpaceX had “thought of any way to try to eventually collect Space debris” by a user who noted that “it could directly affect its business in the future if it gets out of control”, Mr Musk laid out the plan to use Starship.

“Yes, we can fly Starship around space & chomp up debris with the moving fairing door,” he wrote on Twitter.

The fairing door is the large cover that will go over any cargo that Starship is carrying to space, open to let it out when it reaches the required orbit, and then close again ahead of the spacecraft’s journey back down to Earth.

The conversation came in reply to a tweet Mr Musk had posted about a new part of the Starlink product, which shows the journey to Mars.

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Mr Musk gave no further information on the plan to use Starship to catch space junk, including whether SpaceX was actively working on such a solution.

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