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RemoveDEBRIS is a satellite research project intending to demonstrate various space debris removal technologies. The mission is led by the Surrey Space Centre from the University of Surrey with the satellite's platform manufactured by Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL). Partners on the project include Airbus, ArianeGroup, Swiss Center for Electronics and Microtechnology, Inria, Innovative Solutions In Space, Surrey Space Centre, and Stellenbosch University.

Mission typeDebris removal tech demo
OperatorSurrey Satellite Technology
SATCAT no.43510Edit this on Wikidata
WebsiteRemoveDEBRIS mission at Surrey Space Centre
Spacecraft properties
ManufacturerSurrey Satellite Technology
Launch mass100 kilograms (220 lb)
Payload mass40 kilograms (88 lb)
Dimensions65 cm × 65 cm × 72 cm
(26 in × 26 in × 28 in)
Start of mission
Launch date2 April 2018, 20:30:38 (2018-04-02UTC20:30:38) UTC[1]
RocketFalcon 9 FT
Launch siteCape Canaveral SLC-40
Deployed fromJapanese Experiment Module aboard the ISS


Mission overviewEdit

Rather than engaging in active debris removal (ADR) of real space debris, the RemoveDEBRIS mission plan is to test the efficacy of several ADR technologies on mock targets in low Earth orbit. In order to complete its planned experiments the platform is equipped with a net, a harpoon, a laser ranging instrument, a dragsail, and two CubeSats (miniature research satellites).[2] The experiments are as follows:

  • Net experiment - One of the CubeSats, called DebrisSat 1, will deploy a balloon meant to simulate a piece of space debris. From a short distance away, the RemoveDEBRIS satellite will attempt to capture the debris in a net and then manoeuvre this package to fall into Earth's atmosphere and burn up.[2]
  • Vision-based navigation - The other CubeSat, called DebrisSat 2, will be released and the RemoveDEBRIS satellite will undergo a series of manoeuvres in order to obtain data and images using both lidar and optical cameras.[2]
  • Harpoon and deployable target - A harpoon connected by a tether will be fired at a plate attached to an arm extending from the RemoveDEBRIS platform itself.
  • Dragsail - After the conclusion of the other experiments the satellite will deploy a large sail, which will act in a similar fashion to an air brake. The dragsail will bring RemoveDEBRIS from the relatively low orbital altitude of the space station into the planet's atmosphere to safely disintegrate.


RemoveDEBRIS was launched aboard the SpaceX Dragon refill spacecraft on 2 April 2018 as part of the CRS-14 mission, arriving at the ISS on 4 April.[3] Deployment of the satellite from the station's Kibo module via robotic Canadarm-2 took place on 20 June 2018.[2][4] At approximately 100 kg, RemoveDEBRIS is the largest satellite to have ever been deployed from the ISS.[5] The full lifespan of the mission from launch to re-entry is estimated at 1.5 years.[6]

On 16 September 2018, it demonstrated its ability to use net to capture a deployed simulated target.[7]

On 8 February 2019, SSTL demonstrated the RemoveDEBRIS harpoon which was fired at a speed of 20 metres per second successfully penetrating a simulated target extended from the satellite on a 1.5-meter (4.9-foot) boom. [8]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Clark, Stephen (2 April 2018). "Launch Log". Spaceflight Now. Archived from the original on 5 April 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d Clark, Stephen (1 April 2018). "Eliminating space junk could take step toward reality with station cargo launch". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  3. ^ Clark, Stephen (4 April 2018). "Dragon cargo capsule reaches space station for second time". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 4 April 2018.
  4. ^ "1st Satellite Built to Harpoon Space Junk for Disposal Begins Test Flight". Retrieved 2018-06-22.
  5. ^ Geib, Claudia (3 April 2018). "An Experimental Space Junk Collector Is On Its Way to the ISS". Futurism. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  6. ^ "RemoveDEBRIS". University of Surrey. Retrieved 18 April 2018.
  7. ^ "Net successfully snares space debris | University of Surrey". Retrieved 2018-09-24.
  8. ^ "RemoveDEBRIS: success for harpoon experiment | Surrey Satellite Technology". Retrieved 2019-02-18.

External linksEdit