CleanSpace One: A Giant Pac-Man to Swallow Orbital Debris

EPFL's SwissCube satellite has been in Earth orbit for over five years, and the challenge is ensuring that it wouldn't become just one more piece of space garbage. EPFL researchers are confident they can meet this challenge, thanks to CleanSpace One (CSO). For the past three years, they have been working on this space cleanup satellite that will be sent into orbit to recuperate SwissCube. It will trap the small satellite and the two will combust together in the atmosphere. A major step forward has been made with critical decisions being taken on the design of approach and capture systems. To design the most efficient capture system, the engineers benefited from the collaboration of microengineering students from Hepia Geneva. The students opted for the so-called 'Pac-Man' solution. The prototype resembles a net in the form of a cone that unfolds and then closes back down once it has captured the small satellite.