ESA e.Deorbit Mission: Spacecraft Can Refurbish Satellites, Refuel, and Boost in Orbit1st Mar 2022
Desperate situations require desperate measures, so the European Space Agency (ESA) has explored ways to handle satellites in orbit. According to ESA, there are currently over 120 million objects measuring 1 mm to 1 cm, nearly 900,000 objects measuring 1 centimetre to 10 centimetres, and over 34,000 pieces more than 10 centimetres in size whizzing around the planet. These objects pose a risk as they can collide with upcoming space missions and cause untold damage. To address the concern, the European Space Agency is repurposing the e.Deorbit mission, which will help to take down derelict satellites.
European Space Agency to Clean Space
According to the European Space Agency, the e.Deorbit will be responsible for refurbishing, refuelling, and boosting satellites in orbit. This initiative is called Clean Space, and it was first launched in 2013 to deorbit the Envisat Earth-observing satellite after it suddenly stopped working in 2012.
Today, the European Space Agency has the funding to develop technologies and remove defunct satellites and other space debris. ESA has encouraged the industry to submit proposals that will help with the removal of a defunct ESA object and demonstrate in-service servicing, which is a new path to a valuable business.
Swiss Army Knife
European Space Agency calls the new project “Swiss Army Knife” because this type of space vehicle can undertake different kinds of complex tasks in space. The device can safely refuel satellites that are about to reach the end of their useful term, adding new equipment or attaching to move to new orbits or direct them elsewhere. However, the most important task, the European Space Agency says, is debris removal, which comes with the potential to ensure the cluttered space environment is made safe for new satellites and other objects.