ESA planning missions to take out space trash
Half a century of space exploration has created a shroud of junk around Earth. As part of its Clean Space initiative, ESA plans to tackle the problem directly: by designing dedicated removal missions.
Around 5000 space launches since 1957 have led to an orbiting population of more than 22 000 trackable objects larger than a coffee cup. Only about 1100 of these are working satellites – the other 95% are space debris.
More than a hundred European experts from industry, academia and national space agencies gathered at ESOC – ESA’s European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany – on 17–18 September to discuss ways to actively remove debris from orbit.