A Swiss start-up has been selected to lead a major European Space Agency (ESA) space clean-up mission with a total budget topping €100 million (CHF110 million).
Engineers at CleanSpace, a spin-off of Space Center (eSpace) at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL), have found a way of capturing and eliminating debris accumulated over six decades of low-orbit activities.
The start-up and its consortium were chosen to develop and fly the first-ever mission to capture and remove a disused ESA asset floating in space.
Work begins early next year with the goal of de-activating a Vespa adapter, a physical structure used to connect the spacecraft to the launch vehicle, in 2025.
Ever since the world’s first satellite was launched in 1957, all kinds of debris have accumulated in space, creating a risk to spaceflight.
In addition to the 2,000 working satellites orbiting our planet, there are over 3,000 abandoned ones, according to CleanSpace.