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Space junk recovery processes set to be tested

Surrey Satellite Technology has shipped the RemoveDEBRIS spacecraft to the Kennedy Space Center ready for launch to the International Space Station.

The RemoveDEBRIS satellite platform will fly four space debris removal technologies and two target cubesats. The platform, which is approximately 1m3, has a flight mass of less than 100kg and is due to be the largest satellite deployed from the ISS to date.

In the first of two capture experiments, a net will be discharged at one of the deployed target cubesats to demonstrate net capture in space. The second capture experiment will see a harpoon launched at a deployable target plate made of representative satellite panel materials – the first harpoon capture in orbit. The third experiment involves vision-based navigation by deploying the second cubesat and demonstrating rendezvous navigation using cameras and a LiDaR. Finally, the RemoveDEBRIS spacecraft will deploy a large dragsail to speed de-orbit, where it will burn up as it enters Earth’s atmosphere.

Professor Sir Martin Sweeting, Surrey Satellite’s executive chairman, said: “It is now time for the international space community to begin to mitigate, limit and control space junk and I am very pleased that the RemoveDEBRIS consortium is leading the way.”

Author
Bethan Grylls

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