Artist’s impression of Vespa after its capture | ESA
This is a first in the history of space exploration. The European Space Agency (ESA) will undertake, in 2025 if all goes as planned, the capture of space debris. It entrusted this mission to a European industrial consortium led by a young Swiss spin-off from EPFL, ClearSpace. “I did not think we would be able to mount such a mission before the next collision caused by space debris,” says Luisa Innocenti, head of the Clean Space program at ESA.
Why it matters. Since the beginnings of space exploration, humanity has never ceased to leave traces of its activities, not only on Earth but also in its neighborhood. It is a very current problem for the space industry, and in particular the mega-satellite satellites, for example of SpaceX or Amazon. Because with the traffic, also increases the risk that space traffic jams lead to a collision… such events have already taken place, in particular in 2009, with the collision between an American satellite and a Russian satellite.