John Arwood, a lifelong waste industry entrepreneur and owner of JDA Companies, is introducing a groundbreaking concept vehicle named “Incognito” that aims to address the growing issue of space waste. As the founder of Arwood Site Services, and several other waste related businesses, Arwood brings over 30 years of experience in waste disposal and sanitation to the table, and now he is applying that expertise to the space industry.
Upon developing his concept, those familiar with Arwood’s work urged him to pursue a patent. However, he faced considerable challenges in doing so. Arwood explains, “In 2014, I sought a patent attorney, only to discover that obtaining a patent for outer space-related projects is an extremely specialized field. I eventually connected with a retired NASA employee who specialized in space and military patents. He advised against seeking a preliminary patent, as the testing process would cost millions, and larger companies might simply replicate the idea.” Undeterred, Arwood contacted U.S. Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) to discuss his concept. He persevered for months until he secured a meeting at the Pentagon with Chris Shank, Director of the Strategic Capabilities Office. Additionally, Arwood invested in Vaya Space, a rocket company with the capability to launch Incognito into orbit. Arwood has dedicated significant resources to engineering and developing his innovative concept.
Arwood was inspired to address the space waste problem by the legacy of American innovators and entrepreneurs who came before him. He found motivation in the words of retired astronaut Dr. Mae Jemison’s words on the importance of space innovation: “The future of our planet depends on continued investments in space exploration and innovation. By pushing the boundaries of what is possible, we not only expand our understanding of the universe, but we also drive advancements in technology and inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers to tackle the challenges we face here on Earth.“
Space waste, which includes derelict satellites, equipment, and debris orbiting Earth, poses a significant threat to both existing satellites and human spacecraft. Left unaddressed, the problem will only escalate as space debris collides with functioning satellites, further compounding the challenge.
Arwood’s innovative concept, Incognito, leverages ion propulsion to latch onto out-of-commission satellites and direct them towards the sun to burn up, thus preventing them from falling to Earth or causing further damage in orbit. The vehicle is designed to operate on solar energy and nuclear propulsion, ensuring a sustainable and efficient solution to the space waste issue.
Despite facing numerous obstacles in securing a patent and receiving initial interest from investor groups, the COVID-19 pandemic and changes in political leadership led to delays in the project’s development. However, Arwood remains committed to seeing his vision come to fruition and is actively seeking support and partners to help develop and implement Incognito.
Arwood believes that the United States is uniquely positioned to pioneer this technology and hopes to see the nation leading the way in addressing the issue of space waste. As a garbage man who has developed a revolutionary solution to a global problem, Arwood is a testament to the power of innovation and forward thinking.