CleanSpace One is technology demonstration satellite in development by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne. The satellite will test technologies to rendezvous, capture, and deorbit end of life satellites and space junk. Destructive reentry will destroy both the captured satellites and itself. To demonstrate the concept – a collapsible net that aligns and then collapses onto a satellite – the spacecraft will collect SwissCube satellites that have expended their useful lifespan.
Originally, the design included a claw for grabbing satellites. However, after collaboration with students from the University of Applied Science in Geneva, the engineers concluded that a net that collapses onto satellites was the most agile and reliable collection system.
The design will include optical sensors to detect the targeted SwissCube satellites. According to a student working for the institute, guidance and navigation are particularly difficult operations due to the varying reflectivity of the satellites. To accomplish visual recognition of the satellites, the organization plans to use cameras with a high dynamic range and process images in real time.
The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology plans to continue developing the technology demonstrator into a ready-made satellite for space junk and derelict satellites removal, eventually offering multiple sizes for different types of missions.
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