New Delhi: India has 103 active or inactive spacecraft and 114 objects in orbit classified as ‘space debris’ and has launched a research to weed out such fragments from outer space. At present, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is undertaking research activities to study the feasibility and technologies required for Active Debris Removal (ADR), Minister of State in the PMO Jitendra Singh told Parliament. According to the Orbital Debris Quarterly News released by NASA in March, India had 103 spacecraft, including active and inactive satellites, and 114 space debris objects, including rocket bodies orbiting Earth. So, a total of 217 space bodies are orbiting the earth in the country.

Singh said that Active Debris Removal (ADR) was one of the proactive methods suggested by the space debris research community, to incorporate the growth of space debris objects. ADR is a very complex technology and involves policy and legal issues. Technology demonstration studies have been conducted by many countries including India. He said that developmental studies have been initiated to finalize the technologies required to demonstrate the ADRs. A top ISRO official told a technology conference last year that the space agency is working on futuristic technologies such as self-feeding rockets and vanishing satellites as part of measures to reduce space debris.

According to the Orbital Debris Quarterly News, the US has 4,144 spacecraft (active and inactive), and 5,126 objects that can be classified as space debris in Earth orbit. China has 517 spacecraft, active and inactive, and 3,854 objects, including spent rocket bodies, orbiting Earth. Singh said ISRO has also set up a Directorate Space Situational Awareness and Management at its headquarters to deal with issues related to space debris. A dedicated Space Situational Awareness Control Center has been set up in Bengaluru to coordinate all space debris related activities within ISRO and to protect Indian operational space assets from collision hazards, he said. The minister said ISRO is also planning its own observation facilities to track and catalog space objects.