The CLEAR mission will be among the first to clean up Earth’s orbit by grabbing debris with a large claw and then incinerating it in the atmosphere
The British CLEAR mission will remove two large pieces of space junk from Earth’s orbit. It is the first attempt to clean up the dangerously congested space environment around our planet.
“Think of a car, if it breaks down or runs out of fuel, we do something. We repair it, refuel and use it again. In space we don’t do that. We treat satellites as disposable items. We use them once. Then we dismantle them. and we leave them up there cluttering up space and interfering with future space operations. It’s unsustainable, we have to do something different, “Rory Holmes, managing director of ClearSpace UK, told Reuters.
According to data from the US Federal Communications Commission, of the 10,000 satellites installed since 1957, more than half are no longer functional.
Among the junk floating in orbit are also used launch vectors and other parts of spacecraft, or what remains of space explosions. Some countries such as Russia, China, the United States and India have shot down their satellites producing waste.
This debris orbits the Earth at very high speeds – around 25,265 km / h in low Earth orbit – and could cause significant damage to a satellite or spacecraft in the event of a collision.
In 2019, the European Space Agency (ESA) selected ClearSpace to lead the first mission to remove an ESA-owned object from orbit, with a launch scheduled for 2025-26.
ClearSpace’s technology features a steerable satellite with a large claw grip, which captures targets and releases them into a lower orbit where they will be incinerated in the atmosphere.
ClearSpace leads a consortium of companies involved in the design of the mission to remove two abandoned and inactive objects for over 10 years. These objects will remain in orbit for a century before naturally re-entering the atmosphere and are located in a very congested region of low earth orbit, above 700 km of altitude, endangering the environment and space security.