ESA approves first ever space debris removal mission

Space debris is a serious problem. In near-Earth orbit there are thousands of orphan fragments of rocket stages that have served their satellites and a mass of other iron that is dangerous for existing spacecraft, including the ISS.

The project of the European space agency ClearSpace-1 is intended to be the first mission in history to free up near space from debris, the launch is already scheduled for 2025.

ClearSpace-1 is testing a technology that will be used during the subsequent space “spring cleaning”. Since, in accordance with international law, satellites, including non-working ones, are someone else's property, the waste stage of the ESA spacecraft - VESPA (Vega Secondary Payload Adapter) weighing about 100 kg was chosen as the object of “cleaning”. It is currently in high orbit, approximately 800 km above the Earth.

It is assumed that after launch the space “janitor” ClearSpace-1 will be put into orbit at an altitude of 500 km. After bringing it into operation, it will rush towards VESPA, capture it with the help of special tentacles and tow it closer to the Earth, where the spent stage will burn in the atmosphere. If the mission is successful, it will be expanded to other objects of paramount importance.

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