A luggage-sized satellite deployed from the International Space Station, called RemoveDEBRIS, is endeavouring to capture and make safe space junk using several different experimental techniques.
A satellite launched from the International Space Station has successfully deployed a net to capture space debris more than 300km above the Earth. In coming months, it will undertake two further experiments geared towards catching space junk, before deploying a dragsail to pull it into the Earth’s atmosphere and burn up safely.
The RemoveDEBRIS mission is testing a range of technologies designed to declutter space from more than 500,000 items of debris put there during the last 60 years of human space exploration.
The ever-increasing amount of space junk is causing real issues for today’s launches as debris can travel up to 28,000 km/h – fast enough for a relatively small item to damage a satellite or spacecraft.
The mission comprises a main satellite that deploys two CubeSats (artificial debris targets) to demonstrate some of its onboard technologies:
• Net Experiment and CubeSat
• Vision-Based Navigation and CubeSat
• Harpoon and Deployable Target
The mission will run until the end of 2019.