Digital Currency Design for Sustainable Active Debris Removal in Space

Kenji Saito, Shinji Hatta, Toshiya Hanada

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Orbital debris (OD) remains as an obstacle to further space development. While efforts are ongoing to avoid newly launched objects becoming debris, the number of debris would still continue to grow because of collisions. Active debris removal (ADR) is an effective measure, but building a sustainable economic model for ADR remains as a difficult problem. We propose that the cost of removal can be paid by circulating digital currency tokens on a blockchain platform whose values may decrease and/or increase over time, issued by global cooperation (a consortium) of parties interested in space development, in exchange with proofs of ADR. The tokens pay their cost by themselves through contributions by the token holders, who are likely to be benefited by removal of debris. This scheme imposes virtually no cost to the consortium. We have generalized this concept as proof of disposal, which, we believe, provides a more accountable foundation for solving social problems with digital currency than many Initial Coin or Cryptoasset Offering in practice today. We evaluated the feasibility of our proposal through a simulation. We conclude that dynamic estimation of the economic values of each ADR and automated pricing of tokens that represent the OD being removed are indeed possible. Actual prototyping of the proposed digital currency system is ongoing.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8624313
Pages (from-to)127-134
Number of pages8
JournalIEEE Transactions on Computational Social Systems
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Modelling and Simulation
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Human-Computer Interaction


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