Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak launching company to clean up space junk

An introductory video appears to criticise certain billionaire space enthusiasts.
An introductory video appears to criticise certain billionaire space enthusiasts. Photo credit: Getty Images

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak is the latest super wealthy man to set his sights on space, but he's got a very different focus than the likes of Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson.

While Musk's SpaceX is aiming for Mars and both Branson and Bezos have enjoyed brief suborbital space rides, Woz - as he's affectionately known - apparently wants to clean up space junk.

The multi-millionaire, known for his philanthropy, has shared a cryptic tweet saying: "A Private space company is starting up, unlike the others."

The tweet linked to a YouTube video showcasing a company called Privateer which is described as "working to keep space safe and accessible to all humankind".

Privateer was founded by Wozniak and Ripcord founder Alex Fielding, who previously worked as an engineer at Apple.

Over space-themed videos and images, a voiceover states: "Together we'll go far. We'll look out for one another. Solve problems together."

In an apparent dig at the likes of Musk, Branson and Bezos it continues: "This isn't a race. It isn't a competition or a game. We are not one person, one company, one nation. We are one planet. We are explorers. We are dreamers, risk takers, engineers and star gazers.

"We are human and it's up to us to work together to do what is right and what is good," it continues. "So here's to taking care of what we have so the next generation can be better together."

"The sky is no longer the limit," the video concludes.

Many news outlets, including, believe this is related to the increasing issue of space junk, which can pose a threat on Earth as well as to space flights.

Both SpaceX and Bezos's Blue Origin are planning on launching tens of thousands of new satellites in the near future to increase internet connectivity globally.

Alongside light pollution, it also increases the risk of satellite collisions and damage from existing debris.

Using statistical models, the European Space Agency estimates there are 36,500 debris objects greater than 10cm in size in Earth's object, with more than 1 million objects between 1cm and 10cm and 330 million objects between 1mm and 1cm.

In August Hugh Lewis, the head of the Astronautics Research Group at the University of Southampton, noted over half of the close or at-risk encounters between satellites is due to SpaceX's Starlink.

Last year former NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said it was time for the US Congress to provide funding to deal with the issue.

"The Space Station has maneuverer three times in 2020 to avoid debris," he tweeted.

"In the last two weeks, there have been three high concern potential conjunctions. Debris is getting worse!"

Wozniak co-founded Apple in 1976 alongside Steve Jobs. He left permanent employment at Apple in 1985, but retains a ceremonial position at the Cupertino-based company.

More details on Privateer are scheduled to be shared at the AMOS Tech Conference in Maui, Hawaii, which started this week.