How much is the ESA paying to remove a piece of space junk?
An estimated 22,300 pieces of space debris are currently floating in low-earth orbit. This is equipment that no longer fulfills a useful function. The more technologies that are no longer available land there, the higher the probability of a dangerous collision. But we haven’t found many good ways to remove them yet.
The European Space Agency (ESA) hopes to change this through a historic new partnership. The agency recently announced a $ 103 million contract with Swiss startup ClearSpace to use its technology to remove a piece of debris from Earth’s orbit in five years. According to ESA, this will be “the first removal of space debris from orbit”.
The item in question is the 247-pound Vega Secondary Payload Adapter (Vespa) that was used to launch a Proba-V satellite in 2013. Since then, it has been in low-earth orbit for no use or purpose. ClearSpace develops a spaceship with a conical net that traps the Vespa and then returns to Earth and burns in the atmosphere. If everything goes according to plan, ESA hopes this project could lead to a “new commercial sector in space” for debris removal.
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