e.deorbit: World's First Active Space Debris Removal Mission
Levels of debris in low orbits are inexorably rising, mainly driven by collisions. As the number of individual items of debris increases, further collisions are bound to follow. The most effective way to stave off this chain reaction and stabilize the debris population in key orbits is to remove large items of debris from space. Clean Space is studying an active debris removal mission called e.deorbit, which would target an ESA-owned derelict satellite in low orbit, capture it, then safely burn it up in a controlled atmospheric reentry. The mission is being prepared for approval during the next ESA Council at Ministerial level in late 2016, for a projected launch in 2023. At present there are two concepts under consideration: one using a net and the other a robotic arm. e.deorbit will be the world's first active debris removal mission, and will provide an opportunity for European industries to showcase their technological capabilities to a global audience.