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Steve Wozniak, Apple’s co-founder, wants to be the garbage dump of space

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Photo: Steve Wozniak, 2015 (Rich Fury) (AP)

Stand back, space barons. Steve Wozniak has announced his own space plans.

Earlier in the week, Wozniak tweeted a cryptic advertisement: “A private space company, different from the others, begins its journey.” The company, called Privateer, posted a video trailer similar to most other billionaires’ space ads, with topics like “together, we’ll go far” on what appear to be archival footage of space milestones. From there they move on to footage of a march against climate change and the statement: “this is not a race”, an obvious reference to the “space race” of the Cold War era, and possibly a nod to things like Blue Origin. fighting on Twitter with Richard Branson on what a true astronaut is.

Woz did not share any additional details beyond the video (you can watch it below), which somewhat confusingly mixes a forest fire, clouds of smoke billowing from fossil fuel power plants, people reaching for the skies, a child with an astronaut suit and a close-up of an iris. “Let’s take care of what we have so that the next generation can be better together,” says the voice-over.

The Privateer website It is in “stealth mode,” but says more details about the company will be announced at the AMOS Tech 2021 conference, which runs through tomorrow in Maui, Hawaii.

According to YouTube video description, Woz co-founded Privateer with Alex Fielding, a member of the team that made the first iMac. The two in turn co-founded Wheels of Zeus (“WoZ”), a now-closed startup that created GPS locators that could be attached to commonly lost objects.

It appears that Woz will not be directly competing for space with Elon Musk, Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos. Instead, he gives the impression that he plans to clean up his space junk; a Press release An August report on an unrelated titanium alloy 3D printer described Privateer as a “new satellite company focused on monitoring and cleaning objects in space.”

Woz would be doing those guys a favor. Space has become a dump for dead satellites and rockets, so much so that in 2019 the NASA called to low earth orbit “the largest garbage dump in the world”, with almost 6,000 tons of waste. NASA has warned that space debris threatens space travelers with debris that travels up to seven times faster than a bullet e informs that even paint stains broke the windows of the space shuttle. The agency is currently monitoring 27,000 pieces of large space debris.

The cleanup will cost money that the United States government has not appropriated. Last year, former NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine urged Congress to fund a $ 15 million cleanup mission, tuiteando: “In the last 2 weeks, there have been 3 potential approaches of great concern. The rubble issue is getting worse! ” The most recent space budget bill, which has been approved by the Senate, has not reserved those funds, but directs the Office of Science and Technology Policy to assess the situation. (The conversation around that bill focused primarily on Blue Origin’s campaign for a $ 10 billion check in government contracts to compete with SpaceX).

There are several surprising ideas for waste management in space. !Lasers ! ¡Space claws! ¡Tentacles! The space company Astroscale, funded by the governments of the United Kingdom and Japan, has already started to test magnetic coupling systems that will tow future space junk and would use Earth’s atmosphere as an incinerator. (Although customers would have to build the corresponding docking plates before launching the ships.)

Former NASA scientist Donald Kessler predicted in 1978 that this minefield would become exponentially more dangerous in the coming decades, as future collisions produce more trash. Last year, Kessler said to Scientific American that space is “long overdue” in preventing a catastrophe.

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