World's First Satellite With Harpoon Will Begin Space Junk Removal Test

After more than 60-years of human beings launching satellites into low Earth orbit (LEO), space junk has become a rather serious problem. In fact, humans have left outer space an absolute mess.

In the collection of space junk orbiting above, it includes spent boosters, dead satellites, spacecraft parts, and even Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster.

According to the United States Space Surveillance Network, there are more than 21,000 objects larger than 3.93 inches orbiting Earth. But, it gets worse, there are an estimated 500,000 bits and pieces of space junk between .40 inches and 3.93 inches in size. The figures do not count active satellites, which the Index of Objects Launched into Outer Space maintained by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), counts roughly 4,600 active satellites overhead.

Last month, the RemoveDEBRIS satellite, one of the world’s first experiments to address the problem of space debris orbiting Earth, was launched from the International Space Station (ISS), indicating that a new era of junk removal in space has begun. The satellite traveled to the ISS on a commercial resupply mission aboard the SpaceX CRS-14, following its launch via a Falcon 9 rocket back in April.

Video: RemoveDEBRIS satellite departs from ISS

Led by Surrey Space Centre (SSC) at the University of Surrey, the RemoveDEBRIS satellite was constructed on the SSTL-42 satellite bus platform. The mission to remove space debris was mostly funded by the European Union, will demonstrate its satellite junk removal capabilities later this year and into next.

RemoveDEBRIS satellite features three Airbus technologies to complete the Active Debris Removal (ADR) mission: a harpoon and net to capture space junk, and a Vision-Based Navigation (VBN) system to find space debris.

“We have spent many years developing innovative active debris removal systems to be at the forefront of tackling this growing problem of space debris and to contribute to the UNs’ Sustainable Development Goals for our future generations,” noted Nicolas Chamussy, Head of Airbus Space Systems.

“We will continue to work closely with teams across the world to make our expertise available to help solve this issue.”

The mission began last month via the departure from the ISS. Deployment of the net from RemoveDEBRIS is scheduled for October, while the VBN test could be late Demeber. The harpoon test is expected sometime in the first quarter of 2019. All experiments will be conducted underneath the ISS.

“During the net experiment, a cubesat will be deployed from the main mission craft. Once the cubesat is 5m away, it will be targeted by the net and captured at around 7m before it floats away to deorbit. The harpoon experiment will involve the launch of a 1.5m boom from the main spacecraft with a composite panel on the end. After launching the boom, the harpoon will be fired at 20m per second to penetrate the target and demonstrate its ability to capture debris. The VBN system will be used to test 2D cameras and 3D light detection and ranging (LIDAR) technology provided by Switzerland’s CSEM to track a second cubesat deployed from the main spacecraft,” said

Video: Space Debris removal mission animation – RemoveDEBRIS

If the experiment is successful, the RemoveDebris satellite could be the most cost-effective, orbital debris removal solution the world has ever seen. This would usher in a boom period for the space junk removal industry, which could be first sparked by a series production of the RemoveDebris satellite, along with countless launches via Elon Musk’s Falcon 9 to the ISS. Maybe President Trump’s space force will get it on the action…


Deathrips Yukon Cornholius Tue, 07/10/2018 - 01:41 Permalink

How much is space fishing going to cost me?


Twitter can suck a fat dick. Those clowns banned me today for 1 post. I have been on there under alias for 7 years with less than 50 posts.


All i said was individual rights matter and mob rule sucks.



Im not just realizing this. Im trying to tell you this isnt a television show.

There is a Moloch worshiping psycho supremacist support group near you who are killing off farmland in a slash and burn ATTACK food supplies. Think bolsheviks vs Christians.  They are attacking FAMILIES and they worship the star of remphan.

Its weirdism. They train parrots to repeat in scoool. Then again in coolage....then by the boob tube. This is the majority of people. In mob rules reality we live in ..they are attacking.

If history is any indicator food will be regulated. Like a ZOO.

Grow a garden and DEATH the MONEYCHANGERS!


Make them come and take it. Locaslism. GROW FOOD!







In reply to by Yukon Cornholius

are we there yet tocointhephrase Tue, 07/10/2018 - 03:30 Permalink

I remember the movie Gravity, whose plot was that space junk collisions at a tipping point would cascade to a point manned flight was not safe. However, over half a million projectiles bigger than a 50 caliber bullet spread over a region far bigger than the narrow surface of the earth (hundreds or thousands of miles upward) sounds impossible to clean up. Plus the problem will only get worse over future decades. It is probable that our orbiting space junk will outlive our civilization. It will not be cleaned up.

In reply to by tocointhephrase

factorypreset Akzed Tue, 07/10/2018 - 12:17 Permalink

It's not up to me to propose how to go about doing it. I'm not the one trying to prove the Earth is flat. All I have ever seen our YouTube videos showing cartoon diagrams and long-winded psuedo scientific/mathematical explanations yet NOT ONE SINGLE photo or video proving without a doubt that we live in a dome and on a flat plane.

In reply to by Akzed

Kafir Goyim tocointhephrase Tue, 07/10/2018 - 16:06 Permalink

This is clever.  It's obviously a test platform for an anti-satellite weapon.  Hell, it might be the real thing and not just a test platform.  Clever of them to sell it to the world as a "space debris" removal satellite.  

Sorry Russia.  We thought that was space debris!  Our bad!

But good job to the flat earth trolls for derailing the conversation away from what this really is.  I guess you earned your pay today.

In reply to by tocointhephrase

SixIsNinE GoFuqYourself Tue, 07/10/2018 - 07:28 Permalink

yes it is a joke.

it's either Arthur C Clark or Heinlein. 

more fodder for the trekkies.

heard TDB put up a dipshit post the other day -

anyone still thinking the ground they stand on is moving 1000MPH whilst simultaneously zooming over 30 million miles a day in a vacuum needs some serious therapy sessions.

Hello - it's called the Jesuit GloBull Deception for a reason.

why is it you can put a bunch of hot air in a big balloon and lift off a ton into the sky?  because gravity.  NO, dumbasses.

get onto globebusters and catch up - from elementary school everyone SHOULD have been skeptics and doubters of the preposterous spinning water ball theory.  

Remember, we get up tight with winds over 15mph - yet you are supposed to believe the tarded ball is moving at the speeds mentioned above every moment without respite.

this crap is to justify more white collar make-work jobs.


In reply to by GoFuqYourself

truthalwayswinsout Tue, 07/10/2018 - 01:06 Permalink

When will they remove all the plastic shit in the ocean?

Their idea is stupid. All you need to do is use force to send it back down to earth or use force to send it into the solar system.

oliviaemma705 NemesisteM Tue, 07/10/2018 - 02:19 Permalink


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In reply to by NemesisteM

GooseShtepping Moron Tue, 07/10/2018 - 01:20 Permalink

I often thought that creating an intentional Kessler Syndrome would be a useful strategy of asymmetrical warfare that a second-tier nation could employ against the United States. A country like Iran or North Korea would have a difficult time mounting a conventional attack against US military forces, but launching 10,000 lbs. of BBs into low earth orbit is well within their capabilities (and, with the spread of private launch platforms, well within the capabilities of many non-state groups). Of course, such an attack would take down the satellites of every spacefaring nation indiscriminately, so any country that tried this approach would quickly become an international pariah. But terrorist groups are used to being international pariahs anyway, and even a legitimate country might feel as if it had no choice if its homeland was under attack.

swissthinker Tue, 07/10/2018 - 01:21 Permalink

"whoops that blew it to pieces"


"we had one problem (dead satellite). now we have 10 (dead satellite blown to bits)"


"let's make more junk."


"let's waste more cash we don't have, which we could use for better things, on failing to solve a non-problem and actually make it worse"

GooseShtepping Moron Tue, 07/10/2018 - 01:39 Permalink

One more thing to keep in mind. Anything in low earth orbit is destined to fall back to earth anyway. There is enough residual atmospheric drag up to an altitude of about 500 miles to de-orbit all satellites and debris, but it will take several generations. If all human space launches were to cease (say, due to protracted economic malaise), the near-earth environment would be pristine again after about a century. Geostationary satellites may take several thousand years before lunar and solar gravitational perturbations, along with the slight drag from the solar wind, disturb their orbits enough to bring them down; but they too will eventually fall. The men of a far future civilization, one that emerges long after the current one has collapsed, will find precious little evidence that humans ever launched any satellites at all.