Even SpaceX and Boeing, which have accomplished great engineering feats, are still grappling with the tech.
One option is to ensure spacecraft remove themselves from orbit. The Dragracer program’s Alchemy satellite is testing the efficacy of Terminator Tape, a box about the size of a DVD case that contains more than 220 feet of a folded-up film with an aluminum coating. One end of the film is attached to the inside of the box, the other end is attached to the box’s lid, and the box is connected to the satellite.
When the satellite stops being useful, it’s the box’s time to shine. Activated either by a person on the ground or by a timer, a release mechanism kicks out the box lid, unfurling the film. The film creates extra drag on the satellite, which accelerates the craft’s fiery return into the atmosphere.