Space debris is becoming a new cause of concern for space agencies around the world. The European Space Agency has just signed a deal with a Swiss startup to clear the space. The startup will work with the ESA to remove the rubble. The ESA said that it has inked a USD 103 million contract with Clearspace SA. Its industrial team will come up with a technique to pull down dead satellites that are filling the low Earth orbit. The ESA expects that the contract is a milestone in establishing a new commercial sector in space. The ESA said that the mission will target the Vega Secondary Payload Adapter. The startup will launch Clearspace-1 — the first active debris removal mission.
The mission is likely to be launched by 2025. It will capture and bring down a Vespa payload adapter for reentry into Earth’s atmosphere. It was left in a disposal orbit after the second flight that was launched in 2013. According to an estimate, the number of debris in space is increasing steadily. Several world agencies have so far made over 5,550 launches in the space. This resulted in some 42,000 tracked objects in the low Earth orbit. Around 23,000 are still in the space. The ESA said that Clearspace-1 will demonstrate the ability to clear the space debris.
The ESA said that it is purchasing the initial mission as part of the ADRIOS project. The startup will raise the remainder of the mission cost by seeking participation from commercial investors. The startup said that it will involve companies from the industry to achieve the mission’s objective. Satellites are being launched into space briskly. Once they complete their missions, they are declared dead and abandoned in orbit. The decomposed satellites don’t fall back into the Earth’s atmosphere. This results in crowding the area around the Earth and poses a serious threat to the future mission. Experts believe that the growing debris in the space could make the missions riskier.