I do not have the experience to solve the problem myself. If I did, I'd be starting a company to do that and not a company that writes software.
I do, however, have a good idea as to why someone would want to solve the problem. First, assumptions.
- Putting stuff in orbit is a very profitable goal.
- A mechanism for putting a kilo into orbit that is below $100. (Costs can run up to $22,000/kilo1.)
Once you have both of those, then you have the need to clean up what's there for the very reasons you gave2
. The cost for this kind of thing now comes under the heading of insurance or paying for police protection. It's just now a cost of doing business and you want to pay one of the 2-3 companies that make it their business to keep the lanes clean.
As for markets not working well for certain problems, I would submit that they actually work exceedingly well. We just may not like why they aren't doing anything about the problem. For example, shmem brings up landmines in a reply down the thread. If there was a significant number of landmines around 10+ major US cities, there would be dozens of companies, large and small, competing to clear them. Given competition, the costs of removing a landmine would drop from $300-$10003 to, probably, something closer to $10-$50/mine. The problem right now is that there is no financial incentive to remove the mines. All the mines are in places that have no value. Yes, that sucks, but that's what the markets are saying. Otherwise, the mines would have been removed by now. The markets abhor a void. Removing space debris, on the other hand, has a lot of financial benefit.
- Theoretically, a shield might be invented that can protect a satellite from anything, but so might Star-Trek teleporters. You're welcome to hold your breath.
My criteria for good software:
- Does it work?
- Can someone else come in, make a change, and be reasonably certain no bugs were introduced?