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Why did the European Space Agency spend $103 million to remove a piece of space junk



Conceptual image of the ClearSpace-1[ads1] mission.

Conceptual image of the ClearSpace-1 mission.
image: that

The European Space Agency has initiated the signing of a historic agreement with SwitzerlandIt is decided to clear the single space debris cleared by ClearSpace in 2025. The $103 million price tag is not cheap, but the mission involves orbital flight. Mouth meshCan herald the beginning of a new space industry.

new contract, Announce ESA stated that the uniqueness of late last week is that the mission will involve “the first removal of space debris from orbit.” ClearSpace is a subsidiary of the Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL) and is a commercial provider for this task. It will seek help from partners in Germany, the Czech Republic, Sweden, Poland and several other European countries.

The goal in question is Vega secondary payload adapter (Or Vespa), has been hovering in low earth orbit (LEO) since 2013. This one weighs 247 pounds (112-kgGram) The payload adapter has successfully sent the Proba-V satellite to space, however, Like many other items in LEO, it is currently useless and poses a potential hazard to satellites in operation Even the International Space Station.

The archive image from 2013 shows the Vespa (Vega Secondary Payload Adapter) adapter in the background and the Proba-V satellite in the foreground.

The archival image from 2013 shows the Vespa (Vega Secondary Payload Adapter) adapter in the background and the Proba-V satellite in the foreground.
image: ESA-Karim Mellab

86 million euros (103 million US dollars) seems to be a huge sum of money that can be used to remove individual space debris, but ESA is making an important investment. The technology required for the ClearSpace-1 mission (the spacecraft will “rendezvous, capture and drop” the Vespa payload adapter) will be used in similar future missions (assuming this specific strategy is feasible). In the end, ESA hopes to launch “new business areas in space.”

Clear space solution Will involve a spacecraft, Cone Net This will “eat” the Vespa payload adapter. This will require unimaginable precision, because the object will travel at 17,400 miles per hour (28,000 km/h).A slight miscalculation can lead to of target Bounce before the net is closed Even lead to Serious collision. After securing the cargo, the ClearSpace spacecraft will fall into the Earth’s atmosphere and burn upon re-entry.

According to ESA, number The number of debris objects currently being tracked is approximately 22,300. For each item added, Chance of collision Increase, making LEO a dangerous place for satellites and astronauts. The removal of these debris “has become our responsibility, and it is our responsibility to ensure that future generations continue to benefit from space infrastructure and exploration,” according to To ClearSpace, and added that ClearSpace-1 will “demonstrate technical and commercial capabilities to significantly enhance the long-term sustainability of spaceflight.”

ClearSpace has its cone-shaped net, but several other companies are also developing their own concepts.For example, RemoveDEBRIS uses Harpoon Snatch wayward objects in orbit.Only time will tell you which strategy Works best, but it is becoming clear The solution is future.It’s time we clean up Our mess.


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