RemoveDEBRIS 1st satellite to tackle space junk


The 100-kg RemoveDebris spacecraft will attempt to capture simulated space debris. The first-ever satellite to test possible solutions in cleaning up space junk has been deployed by the International Space Station (ISS) and would soon begin experiments in orbit. It was transported to ISS via SpaceX CRS-14 launch in early April 2018.

  • RemoveDEBRIS mission is aimed at performing key Active Debris Removal (ADR) technology demonstrations (e.g capture, deorbiting) representative of operational scenario during low-cost mission using novel key technologies for ADR.
  • The mission plans is to test efficacy of several ADR technologies on mock targets in low Earth orbit (LEO), rather than engaging in ADR of real space debris.
  • The mission will comprise of main satellite platform that once in orbit will deploy two CubeSats as artificial debris targets to demonstrate four methods for release, capture and deorbit two space debris targets, called DebriSATs.

four methods are:

  • Net capture: It involves net that will be deployed at target CubeSat.
  • Harpoon Capture: It will be launched at target plate made of representative satellite panel materials.
  • Vision-based navigation: It will send data about debris back to the ground for processing using cameras and LiDAR (light detection and ranging).
  • De-orbiting process: The spacecraft after entering Earth’s atmosphere during de-orbiting process will burn up, leaving no debris behind.