The amount of trash in Earth orbit is growing. Since the launch of the first Satellite in 1957, rocket parts, broken satellites, and micrometeoroids are added as space junk.
These man-made objects from dead satellites to errant nuts and bolts are zipping around Earth. These are putting our working satellites at risk.
Scientists are working on ways to combat this threat. Recently European Space Agency (ESA) has awarded a $103 million contract to Switzerland-based ClearSpace SA to remove this space debris. The ESA is going to provide expertise and money for this operation. However, all the engineering and design work will be performed by ClearSpace SA.
ClearSpace SA’s first target is a VESPA (Vega Secondary Payload Adapter). In the year 2013, VESPA helped launch an ESA Vega rocket. This object was left in an approximately 801 km by 664 km-altitude gradual disposal orbit. Since then it is orbiting Earth. They are planning to launch their mission, dubbed ClearSpace-1, in 2025.
If ClearSpace-1 is successful, the company can design more efficient versions of the claw for capturing junk.