European Space Agency to Launch a Bot to Clean Up Space Debris

By: | December 17th, 2019

Image courtesy Wikipedia

Did you know that, even the tiniest piece of space debris orbiting at speed can pose a major threat to the ISS (International Space Station) and active satellites? Due to continuous launch of rockets and satellites, Low Earth orbit is becoming increasingly cluttered.  

To solve this serious issue, ESA (European space agency) is planning the world’s first mission to clean up Earth’s orbit. ESA’s has commissioned ‘ClearSpace-1’ to remove space debris from orbit.

By 2025, the agency plans on launching a four-armed robot — the Chaser. Chaser the world’s first orbiting junk collector will drag space debris back to Earth.

First target of the mission ‘ClearSpace-1’ is Vespa, the secondary payload adapter of ESA’s Vega launch in 2013. This piece of junk is not a satellite, but it is almost of the same weight as a small satellite. Moreover simple shape of Vespa will be easy for the Chaser to grab with its four robotic arms. Once it’s safely collected, it will then be dragged out of orbit to burn up in the atmosphere.

According to Luc Piguet, founder and CEO of ClearSpace, ”This is the right time for such a mission,” “The space debris issue is more pressing than ever before. Today we have nearly 2000 live satellites in space and more than 3000 failed ones.”

“And in the coming years the number of satellites will increase by an order of magnitude, with multiple mega-constellations made up of hundreds or even thousands of satellites planned for low Earth orbit to deliver wide-coverage, low-latency telecommunications and monitoring services. The need is clear for a ‘tow truck’ to remove failed satellites from this highly trafficked region.”

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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