Demonstration Mission For Space Junk Cleanup On Track For Next Year

RemoveDEBRIS is a mission organized by the Surrey Space Centre in the U.K. to conduct a demonstration of technologies that could remove some space junk.  In partnership with contractors and researchers across Europe, the mission would demonstrate what are called Active Debris Removal (ADR) techniques.

The mission involves launching a microsatellite that contains debris targets.  These targets would then be released by the satellite, recaptured and ultimately de-orbited.  The experiments include testing harpoon and net technologies for capture, as well as a drag sail for deorbiting.  Additionally there is an experiment for vision-based navigation with uncooperative objects like space debris.  You can see what the researchers have in mind with this video presented at the recent Summer Science Exhibition at the Royal Society.  Advance to roughly 1:37 to get to the mission-specific material.

The mission is expected to launch early next year, and should inform future debris recovery missions dealing on larger scales and native debris.

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