Orbots: Out of Sci-Fi and into Action

Sept. 7, 2022
Rogue Space Systems is developing orbital robots, known as orbots, that will allow for the safe removal of space debris.

View part 1: Satellite Trash Collectors: Policies for Space Debris

View Part 3: Next Frontier: Space Disposal Systems and Satellite Servicing

New Hampshire-based Rogue Space Systems Corporation is in the process of developing orbital robots (dubbed orbots) that will allow for the safe removal of space debris. The company’s main robot, Fred, is designed to move satellites and other assets to and from different orbits.

In this video interview with Machine Design, Jeromy Grimmett, founder and CEO of Rogue Space Systems, details the impending technology and its potential impact on society.

“It’s some real Star Trek stuff,” quipped Grimmett.

He explained how omnimagnets, in development through a partnership with the University of Utah, might be used to stop objects from tumbling to Earth. The technology will allow controllers to manipulate even non-magnetic objects in space and allow for six degrees of movement, said Grimmett.

Six degrees of movement or “six degrees of freedom” references the freedom of movement of a rigid body in three-dimensional space. Omnimagnet technology, which consists of electromagnets, creates a magnetic field and synchronizes the orbot with the targeted piece of debris.

Detumbling an object in space without breaking it is both a challenging and expensive endeavor, said Grimmett.

“We can slow the spin in those six axes, so that we can safely approach or grab hold of it, attach drag lines and attach drag streams to it, and then allow it to decay naturally into the upper atmosphere,” Grimmett explained. “That is a safe, sustainable, non-debris creating way of solving a problem.”

READ MORE: Q&A: Clean up on the Space Aisle: Recovering Space Debris

About the Author

Rehana Begg | Editor-in-Chief, Machine Design

As Machine Design’s content lead, Rehana Begg is tasked with elevating the voice of the design and multi-disciplinary engineer in the face of digital transformation and engineering innovation. Begg has more than 24 years of editorial experience and has spent the past decade in the trenches of industrial manufacturing, focusing on new technologies, manufacturing innovation and business. Her B2B career has taken her from corporate boardrooms to plant floors and underground mining stopes, covering everything from automation & IIoT, robotics, mechanical design and additive manufacturing to plant operations, maintenance, reliability and continuous improvement. Begg holds an MBA, a Master of Journalism degree, and a BA (Hons.) in Political Science. She is committed to lifelong learning and feeds her passion for innovation in publishing, transparent science and clear communication by attending relevant conferences and seminars/workshops. 

Follow Rehana Begg via the following social media handles:

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LinkedIn: @rehanabegg and @MachineDesign

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