ESA signs 102 million dollar deal with Swiss startup to bring back space junk- Technology News, Firstpost

The European Space Agency (ESA) has signed a € 86 million (US $ 102 million) contract with ClearSpace SA to bring a large chunk of orbital debris back to Earth. ClearSpace is a Swiss startup that offers in-orbit service and space debris removal. It was selected by ESA for this mission in 2019. Clearspace-1 will be launched in 2025.

Defunct artificial objects orbiting in space, especially in earth orbit, are referred to as space debris. It can also consist of natural debris from meteoroids. NASA estimates that there are more than 20,000 pieces of debris larger than a softball currently orbiting the earth. It will only continue to grow as the commercial space industry grows and more rockets are launched into orbit and into space.

Some of this debris moves at speeds of up to 28,163 km / h and is fast enough for a relatively small piece of orbital debris to damage a satellite or spacecraft. This creates an unsafe environment for satellites to be positioned and moved frequently to take the orbital path of debris in orbit.

A computer generated image of objects in orbit currently being tracked by the US Air Force. Approximately 95% of these objects are debris / non-functioning satellites. Photo credit: NASA

ESA said the deal with ClearSpace SA will result in “the first active debris removal mission” and a custom four-armed clawed spaceship will capture and launch part of a missile that was once used to deliver a satellite into orbit. The debris is placed in lower orbit where the duo enter the atmosphere and burn.

The companies acquired by ESA and ClearSpace SA expect this to be the first in a series of debris removal missions and also envision a future in which they can remove multiplier objects at the same time.

Experts have long warned that hundreds of thousands of space debris orbiting the planet – including an astronaut’s lost mirror – pose a threat to functioning satellites and even the International Space Station. Multiple teams are working on ways to address the problem.

In a report by scienceDarren McKnight, a space debris expert at tech company Centauri, welcomes ESA as one of the few agencies taking action to clean up space debris, but also fears it will be a very slow process. act.

“If we don’t start soon we will be in big trouble,” he added. “We have to take small steps quickly.”

The goal: Vespa

The mission is aimed at the Vespa (Vega Secondary Payload Adapter). It was used to hold and then release a satellite in 2013. It weighs about 112 kilograms (247 pounds), which is almost the size of a small satellite.

According to the Press releaseThe property was left in a gradual disposal path of approx. 801 km by 664 km altitude.

“Think of all orbital acquisitions that have taken place up to this point and that have all taken place with cooperative, fully controlled target objects,” explains ESA Director General Jan Wörner SciTechDaily. “By definition, no such control is possible with space debris: Instead, the objects drift and often tumble randomly.

“This initial capture and disposal of a non-cooperative space object is therefore an extremely challenging achievement. With the total number of satellites growing rapidly over the next decade, regular distances will become increasingly important to keep debris levels under control and prevent a cascade of collisions that could exacerbate the debris problem. “

New way of doing things

This ESA agreement also shows that it is following a similar path that NASA and, more recently, ISRO have taken in involving the commercial actors in the planning, construction and operation of a mission while obtaining the necessary funds from the state space agency. With the upcoming rubble return mission, ESA has signed an end-to-end service contract with ClearSpace rather than developing its own spaceship and all of the other instruments needed for the mission.

According to a Press releaseESA has bought “the first mission” and will contribute its expertise to the “Active Debris Removal / In-Orbit Servicing” (ADRIOS) project under the ESA space security program. However, the startup has to raise its own funds for the “rest of the mission costs” through other investors.

You will also receive help from other companies in Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Germany, Sweden, Poland, the United Kingdom, Portugal and Romania.

Luisa Innocenti, Head of ESA’s Clean Space Office, said: “We envision that this groundbreaking coverage will lay the foundation for a recurring business case, not just for debris removal by responsible space actors around the world, but also for them Maintenance in orbit: The same technologies also enable the refueling and maintenance of satellites in orbit and extend their lifespan. Ultimately, we envision this trend that extends to assembly, manufacturing, and recycling in orbit. “

With submissions from the Associated Press

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