European Space Junk Cleanup Concept Gets New Mission: Refuel and Repair | 1/29/2019 | Staff
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The European Space Agency (ESA) has redesigned its active space-debris-removal demonstration mission concept e.Deorbit as a multipurpose, in-orbit servicing vehicle that could be used to refuel, refurbish or re-boost satellites.

ESA officials announced their decision to refocus the mission in a statement last month.

ESA - Researchers - Technologies - Harpoon - Satellite

ESA researchers studied various technologies, including a net and a harpoon, that might have been able to catch and remove the satellite. Eventually, based on the lack of economic interest in technology aimed solely at debris removal, officials decided the agency could use the challenging mission as a trial for a much more versatile system — a multipurpose "Swiss army knife" type of satellite that could perform a whole range of in-orbit tasks, according to the statement.

Before making the final decision, ESA scientists ran several studies using detailed software models of the satellite to understand how the active-orbit-removal mission could best be transformed into a highly autonomous vehicle capable of performing a variety of tasks such as moving satellites to different orbits or attaching new equipment to them. Active space-debris removal would only be one of the potential applications of the spacecraft, ESA officials said.

Tasks - Harpoon - ESA - Concepts - Development

Since such complex tasks couldn't be performed with a net and a harpoon, ESA decided to shelve the concepts and focus instead on the development of a versatile robotic arm.

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