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ClearSpace-1 Mission Changes Objective in Response to Space Debris Collision

By Abbey Weltman | April 24, 2024

Artistic image of Proba-1 in orbit ©ClearSpace

The ClearSpace-1 debris removal mission changed its objective after detecting a space debris collision of the target with untraceable debris. In-space debris removal company ClearSpace announced the decision on April 24.

ClearSpace pivoted to the next stage of the ClearSpace-1 mission following a technical and programmatic review with the European Space Agency (ESA). The debris target was altered to adjust the requirements for the mission and simplify the structure of its industrial team and to reduce risks. 

The new ClearSpace-1 mission is now set to rendezvous with PROBA-1, an ESA spacecraft with fully autonomous capabilities that will capture and conduct a perigee decrease maneuver on the 20-year-old space veteran satellite. The mission will employ a four-armed capture mechanism to grab the client satellite and then safely re-enter Earth’s atmosphere where it will burn up.

The mission’s original target, a VESPA payload adapter left in-orbit from a 2013 Vega launch, was hit by other space debris last year.

ESA enabled the continuation of the preparatory phase which will be implemented by a consortium led by German company OHB SE, which will provide the satellite bus and be in charge of the system integration and launch. ClearSpace will contribute its technical leadership in close-proximity and capture operations.

‘’We are honored to collaborate with OHB and remain at the forefront of in-orbit servicing with the ClearSpace-1 mission,’’ says Luc Piguet, ClearSpace CEO.