ESA prepares for world’s first space debris clean-up mission

The European Space Agency (ESA) has commissioned Swiss start-up ClearSpace to submit a plan to launch a “scavenger” in 2025 to clean up a 100-kilogram piece of debris in ESA’s orbit, the European Space Agency (ESA) reported recently. This task will give ESA the lead in the new in-orbit services and debris clean-up market.

ESA prepares for world's first space debris clean-up mission

ClearSpace, a group of people from the Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, will soon submit a plan for the Clean Space-1 mission, which is scheduled to begin in March next year, the first mission to remove space debris from orbit.

“We have nearly 2,000 satellites in space that are still working, 3,000 that have failed,” said Luke Pigey, founder and chief executive of ClearSpace. Over the next few years, the number of satellites will increase by an order of magnitude, and there will be several giant constellations of hundreds of satellites. Obviously, we need ‘trailers’ to remove some of the failed satellites from the congestion. “

“Even from tomorrow, all space launches will stop,” said Luis Innocenti, head of THE ESA Clean Space program. But predictions suggest that constant collisions between space objects will also produce new debris, and that the number of debris in the entire orbit will continue to increase. Therefore, we need to develop new technologies to avoid generating new debris and removing existing debris. “

“NASA and ESA’s research shows that the only way to stabilize the orbital environment is to actively remove large debris,” Innocenti said. Therefore, through a new project called ‘Active Debris Removal/In-OrbitIng’, we will develop the necessary guidance, navigation and control techniques, as well as rendezvous and capture methods, and the results will be applied to the Clean Space-1 mission. “

The goal of the Clean Space-1 mission is the Vespa, a debris currently in orbit around 660 kilometers. Vespa weighs about 100 kilograms, is about the size of a small satellite, is relatively simple in shape and has a strong structure, making it a good target for the first space clean-up mission.

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