The European Space Agency (ESA) is signing a $102m contract with an industrial team, led by the Swiss start-up ClearSpace SA, for the world’s first debris removal mission.
In 2025, ClearSpace SA will launch the first active debris removal mission, ClearSpace-1, which will rendezvous, capture and bring down for reentry of a Vespa payload adapter.
This object was left in an approximately 801 km by 664 km-altitude gradual disposal orbit, complying with space debris mitigation regulations, following the second flight of Vega back in 2013. With a mass of 112 kg, the Vespa target is close in size to a small satellite.
In December, mission experts will give an overview of the project status, explain the ambitious mission design and detail the next steps leading to launch.
ESA is purchasing the initial mission and contributing key expertise, as part of the Active Debris Removal/In-Orbit Servicing project (ADRIOS) within ESA’s Space Safety Programme.
ClearSpace SA will raise the remainder of the mission cost through commercial investors.
While ClearSpace SA is leading the mission, enterprises in Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Germany, Sweden, Poland, the United Kingdom, Portugal and Romania are also contributing.