Professor Guglielmo Aglietti, Surrey Space Centre, University of Surrey, UK

The RemoveDebris mission development and in-orbit operations
When May 20, 2019
from 02:00 PM to 03:00 PM
Where LR1, Thom Building
Contact Name
Contact Phone +44 (0)1865 273030
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The RemoveDebris mission has accomplished the first successful in-orbit demonstration of a series of technologies for the active removal of space debris.

The craft was launched the 2nd of April 2018, on board a Dragon capsule resupply mission for the ISS and from there the satellite has been deployed in orbit the 20th of June.  

The mission concept consists of a main mini satellite platform of approximately 100kg mass that has released two 2U cubesats which acted as space debris. 

The first cubesat was released on the 16th of September 2018, and observed by the mothercraft whilst deploying an inflatable structure in order to increase its size becoming more representative of real large space debris. The cubesat has then been captured by a net launched by mothercraft when it was approximately 10 meters away, with the whole operation captured by the satellite supervision cameras.

The second cubesat, was released with a low speed ejection from the satellite platform and while drifting away has been observed using the Visual Based Navigation (VBN) system to test its hardware and algorithm capability. 

Next was the harpoon experiment, where a small Honeycomb panel of construction analogous to that used in standard satellites structures was deployed using a boom that positioned this panel at a 1.5 meter distance from the platform. This panel was hit by the tethered harpoon that will be fired by the satellite platform.

The last experiment to be performed, currently underway, is the deployment of a drag-sail to slow down the craft, lowering the orbit until the satellite will eventually burn into the atmosphere.


This project is supported by the European Commission FP7-SPACE-2013-1 (project 607099) ‘RemoveDebris – A Low Cost Active Debris Removal Demonstration Mission’, a consortium partnership project consisting of: Surrey Space Centre (University of Surrey), SSTL, Airbus GmbH, Airbus SAS, Airbus Ltd, Ariane Group, Innovative Solutions in Space (ISIS), CSEM, Inria, Stellenbosch University.