On Sunday, the University of Surrey’s Space Center made history when it successfully captured a piece of space junk in orbit. It is the first time an active debris removal system has ever been demonstrated in space.
The test was carried about by the RemoveDEBRIS satellite, an experimental space debris removal platform built by an international consortium of space companies and university research centers. There are tens of thousands of pieces of fast-moving space junk in orbit, which range from the centimeter-scale all the way to entire rocket stages. Some of these pieces are moving faster than a bullet and all of them pose a serious danger to other satellites and crewed capsules.
The RemoveDEBRIS satellite consists of a large, 220-pound main satellite that carries two smaller cubesats and a net. The mission involves deploying these cubesats as artificial space junk and them capturing them to demonstrate the effectiveness debris removal technology. The first cubesat was successfully captured on Sunday evening with a net after six years of testing the technology on Earth.
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