RemoveDebris schedules space junk removal demonstrator’s launch for early 2017
The Surrey Space Centre led RemoveDebris will send a debris removal demonstrator in early next year. Space debris could cause harm to satellites sent from earth with a purpose. The mission will test potential of low-cost technologies to remove space junk.
According to the Surrey Space Centre, some 7,000 tonnes (7,716 tons) of space debris is orbiting the Earth at tens of thousands of miles per hour. It is composed of dead satellites, booster rocket stages, paint chips, and shrapnel from collisions. It pose continuous danger to satellites, a collision with even a small fragment in space could damage them.
Therefore, there is a need to clean space. The RemoveDebris mission was launched to initiate projects that help clean junk from the space, similar project is scheduled to be launched early 2017 during which RemoveDebris demonstrator will enter into orbit to collect and remove space debris.
The mission is backed by the European Commission and is led by surrey in partnership with Airbus, Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) and others. It comprises of a small cubical satellite based on the SSTL X-50 platform and is designed to carry four experimental payloads, cameras, and bays for two cubesats that will play the part of debris.
After the launch of demonstrators, first RemoveDebris will travel to the International Space Station. Then, it will move into a lower orbit to carry out four experiments before again entering into Earth's atmosphere to burn up.
“The space around Earth is part of Earth's environment and keeping it clean is a common responsibility. Our mission, RemoveDebris, is one of the first concerted efforts to pioneer future technologies to remove space junk”, said Dr Jason Forshaw, Surrey Space Centre project manager on the RemoveDebris team.
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