Why Europe’s space agency is spending $ 103 million to remove a single piece of space junk

Imaginary image of Clear Space-1 mission.

Imaginary image of the Clear Space-1 mission.
Image: ESA

European Space Agency signs historic deal with Swiss startClearspace up in 2025 to remove an object of space debris. Mouth as cleanCould announce the start of a completely new space industry.

New covenant, Announced Last weekend, it was unique in that the mission involved “the first removal of any space debris from orbit,” according to the ESA. Ecole Polytechnic Federal de Lausanne (EPFL) ‘s Spin of F Clear Space is the commercial provider for this mission, and will enlist the help of partners in Germany, the Czech Republic, Sweden, Poland and many other European countries.

There is a goal in question Vega secondary payload adapter (Or Vespa), which has been in low Earth orbit (LEO) since 2013. The 247-pound (112-)KgG) The payload adapter successfully launched the Proba-V satellite into space, but, Like many things in Leo, it does not work for any purpose, presenting a potential hazard to the currently operating satellites. And possibly even the International Space Station.

2013 archival image showing Vespa (Vega secondary payload adapter) adapter in the background, with Proba-V satellite in the foreground

2013 archival image showing Vespa (Vega secondary payload adapter) adapter in the background, with Proba-V satellite in the foreground
Image: ESA – Karim Mellab

Million 86 million (3 103 million) seems like a lot of money to spend to remove one item of space debris, but ESA is making a significant investment. The technology needed for the ClearSpace-1 mission, in which the spacecraft will “wrap, capture and bring down” the Vespa payload adapter, will likely be taken up in similar future missions (assuming this particular strategy will work). Eventually, ESA hopes to launch “a new business sector in space.”

Clear space Solution Will include a spacecraft and Cone net It will “eat” the Vespa payload adapter. This will require incredible precision, as 17 objects will travel at 17,400 miles per hour (28,000 km / h). Can do slightly wrong calculations This Target .object Bounce before closing the net Or even the reason Severe collision. As its cargo is secured, the spacecraft will enter Earth’s atmosphere and re-enter.

According to the ESA, this No. Currently there are around 22,300 of the debris currently in the rubble. With each added item, Opportunity to collide Increases, making LEO a dangerous place for satellites and astronauts. Removing this debris “has become necessary and it is our responsibility to ensure that tomorrow’s pay generations can benefit from space structures and research.” According to From ClearSpace, adding that ClearSpace-1 will “demonstrate technical capability and commercial capability to significantly enhance the long-term stability of a spaceflight.”

Its conical net in clear space, but many other companies are developing their own concepts. For example, remove ABBRS a Harpoon Stripping objects moving in orbit. Only time will tell which strategy Works best, but it’s becoming increasingly clear There are solutions Coming. It’s time for us to clean up Our mess.