Space Junk Removal Could Come to Life with Station Cargo Launching

The European engineers who developed the small satellite that deters the spacecraft’s arrival and departure to the space station aboard the SpaceX supply mission had been geared up for a first-ever experimentation to test the ways to capture the space junks and then get them back down to Earth. This mission is called RemoveDebris.

Being developed in the public and private partnership, this RemoveDebris mission would help to effectively capture any objects in space, repurposing the devices that are commonly used in fishing in order to take the debris floating in the orbit and get them down to Earth. When they are brought down, they will be burned for elimination. 

According to Guglielmo Aglietti, a principal investigator for RemoveDebris mission, this project is called as “proof-of-concept.” The goal of this mission, according to him is to show that space junk cleaning can be expensive, a wise move that is something only be afforded by the commercial companies or the governments that operate with a budget limitation. 

The satellite for the RemoveDebris will launch in the container inside the cargo craft of the SpaceX Dragon. This supply spacecraft has the materials and research equipment inside it weighing more than 5,800 pounds for the six-person crew in the International Space Station. On this load, the RemoveDebris is occupying the 200 pounds of the overall weight in the spacecraft.

The RemoveDebris mothership is containing two CubeSats, a harpoon and a net, a laser-ranging instrument, and a “dragsail” that is designed for unfurling the back of the main satellite and then hasten it fall back to Earth atmosphere with the help of the aerodynamic resistance. 

Aglietti added that the RemoveDebris is slated currently for deployment from space station may be in the late May or in the early days of June.

This mission would become the largest satellite launching from the space station. This will place the mission under extra inspection coming for the managers in NASA, who wanted to make sure that the satellite brings no harm to the crew or to the orbiting outposts. The RemoveDebris mission was supposed to be done last year. However, the officials had bumped it with the cargo flight of SpaceX. 

RemoveDebris mission is partially funded by European Commission as the project has the budget of $18.7 million. The rest of its cost is paid by ten of the companies that involved in the demonstration.