The European Space Agency says it is signing a € 86 million ($ 102 million) contract with a Swiss startup to bring a large chunk of orbital garbage back to Earth.
The agency said Thursday that an agreement with ClearSpace SA will lead to a “first active debris removal mission” in 2025, in which a custom-built spacecraft intercepts and launches a portion of a missile used to transport a satellite into orbit.
Experts have long warned that hundreds of thousands of space debris orbiting the planet, including the lost mirror of an astronaut, pose a threat to operational satellites and even the International Space Station. Several teams are working on ways to address the problem.
The object removed from the orbit is a so-called Vespa payload adapter that was used in 2013 to capture and then release a satellite. It weighs about 112 kilograms (247 pounds).
Deep learning algorithms that help clean up garbage from our skies
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