Guest essay by Eric Worrall
The European Space Agency has announced plans to launch a space claw, which latches on to pieces of space junk, then drags the junk into a fiery death in Earth’s atmosphere. My question – what is the difference between something which can destroy space junk, and a satellite killer?
European Space Agency will launch giant claw that drags space junk to its doom
No, really. It’s signed a contract to make this happen in the year 2025
Simon Sharwood, APAC Editor Fri 27 Nov 2020 // 04:01 UTC
The European Space Agency has formalised its plan to dispose of space junk by using an orbiting claw to grab an old bit of rocket before dragging both the claw and the junk to a fiery doom.
The agency announced the plan in late 2019 when it revealed it had asked Swiss startup ClearSpace to fully scope the mission.
The paperwork was due in March and found favour with the ESA’s Ministerial Council, which has approved funding for an €86 million contract to fund the mission.
The goal remains the same: fly ClearSpace’s junk-grabbing claw to intercept a VESPA (Vega Secondary Payload Adapter) that’s orbited since a 2013 launch of an ESA Vega rocket.
The ESA official announcement is available here.
Obviously I am not suggesting the ESA has hostile intentions towards US space assets, but there is always a possibility that another less friendly party will hack their system, steal their technology, or develop their own version.
Luckily the USA has a space force, to evaluate and protect US space assets from potential threats.