The Airbus Stevenage designed harpoon featured a 1.5 metre boom deployed from the main RemoveDEBRIS spacecraft with a piece of satellite panel on the end. The harpoon was fired at 20 metres/sec to penetrate the target and demonstrate the ability of a harpoon to capture debris.
RemoveDEBRIS is a small satellite mission to test four Active Debris Removal experiments. The satellite is designed, built and manufactured by a consortium of leading space companies and research institutions, led by the University of Surrey. The spacecraft is operated in orbit by engineers at Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd in Guildford, UK. The project is co-funded by the European Union.
The US Space Surveillance Network tracks 40,000 objects and it is estimated that there are more than 7,600 tonnes of ‘space junk’ in and around Earth’s orbit – with some moving faster than a speeding bullet, approaching speeds of 30,000 miles per hour.
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