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Mission typeActive debris removal
Spacecraft properties
Launch mass1,600 kilograms (3,500 lb)
Start of mission
Launch date2023[1]
Launch siteELA-1, Guiana Space Centre
End of mission
Capture of derelict satellite

e.Deorbit is a planned European Space Agency active space debris removal mission developed as a part of their Clean Space initiative.[2][3] The launch is planned for 2023 on board a Vega launch vehicle.[1][4]


A 1,600-kilogram (3,500 lb) spacecraft will be launched on board a Vega rocket into a polar orbit at an altitude of 800–1,000 kilometres (500–620 mi). Once on orbit, the spacecraft will rendezvous with the derelict satellite Envisat which is in an unknown condition, inoperative, and probably tumbling.[3]

Capture will be conducted in one of two ways: either by using mechanical tentacles or nets. The tentacles option includes equipping the spacecraft with robotic arms, one of which will first capture a holding point, before the remaining arms embrace the derelict and secure it with a clamping mechanism. The net option includes equipping the spacecraft with a deployable net on a tether, that will envelop the target derelict before the spacecraft will begin changing orbit.[5]:13,24,25 The net option has the advantage of being able to capture objects with a wide range of sizes and spins.[6]

After successfully capturing the targeted derelict, the spacecraft will deorbit itself by performing a controlled atmospheric reentry.[4]


The mission was developed at ESA's Concurrent Design Facility, with studies for the Clean Space programme on de-orbiting techniques being carried out in 2009.[4][7] The first symposium about the mission took place in May 2014.[2] Early testing included successful attempts at capturing scale model satellites by shooting nets from compressed air ejectors.[6] The first design stage was completed in June 2015, with a systems requirements review being conducted in May–June 2016 and a final mission approval taking place in December 2016.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "E.DEORBIT Mission". ESA. 12 April 2017. Retrieved 6 October 2018.
  2. ^ a b "e.Deorbit Symposium". ESA. 6 May 2014. Retrieved 2 June 2015.
  3. ^ a b "Space fishing: ESA floats plan to net space junk". Gizmag. 28 February 2014. Retrieved 2 June 2015.
  4. ^ a b c d "ESA heading towards removing space debris". ESA. 2 June 2015. Retrieved 2 June 2015.
  5. ^ Robin Biesbroek (22 May 2013). "The e.Deorbit CDF Study" (PDF). Retrieved 2 June 2015.
  6. ^ a b Rick Pantaleo (23 March 2015). "Fishing in Outer Space for Bigger Junk". Voice of America. Retrieved 2 June 2015.
  7. ^ "Clean Space". ESA, Concurrent Design Facility. 3 October 2012. Retrieved 2 June 2015.

External links[edit]