CleanSpace One is a Swiss mission to test space debris capture and deorbit technology. Developed by the Swiss Space Center at Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) and announced in February 2012, the CleanSpace One project is a rare example of a concrete mission to actively remove orbital debris. The system works by grabbing a defunct satellite and plunging with it into the atmosphere, there to hopefully burn up. EPFL plans to avoid any legal complications by target one of two Swiss CubeSats, ensuring the deorbit manevuer is performed with the satellite owner’s agreement.
The mission is now a step closer to reality through an agreement with Swiss Space Systems (S3) who is expected to invest about $16 million in developing an aircraft based launch mechanism for small satellites like CleanSpace One. The launch is currently planned for 2018.
Read the announcement here and watch below for an explanation of the partnership:
Image caption: Active debris removal satellites like the proposed CleanSpace One will be limited in their targets by debris ownership issues (Credits: EPFL).