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Mission typeActive debris removal
Spacecraft properties
Launch mass1,600 kilograms (3,500 lb)
Start of mission
Launch date2025[1]
Launch siteELA-1, Guiana Space Centre
End of mission
Capture of derelict satellite

e.Deorbit was a planned European Space Agency active space debris removal mission developed as a part of their Clean Space initiative.[2][3] The launch was planned for 2025 on board a Vega launch vehicle.[1][4][5] Funding of the mission was stopped in 2018[6] in favor of the ClearSpace-1 mission, which is now under development.[7]


A 1,600-kilogram (3,500 lb) spacecraft was to be launched on board a Vega rocket into a polar orbit at an altitude of 800–1,000 kilometres (500–620 mi). Once on orbit, the spacecraft would rendezvous with the derelict satellite Envisat which is in an unknown condition, inoperative, and probably tumbling.[3]

Capture would be conducted in one of two ways: either by using mechanical tentacles or nets. The tentacles option included equipping the spacecraft with robotic arms, one of which will first capture a holding point, before the remaining arms embrace the derelict and secure it with a clamping mechanism. The net option included equipping the spacecraft with a deployable net on a tether, that will envelop the target derelict before the spacecraft will begin changing orbit.[8]: 13, 24, 25  The net option has the advantage of being able to capture objects with a wide range of sizes and spins.[9]

After successfully capturing the targeted derelict, the spacecraft would deorbit itself by performing a controlled atmospheric reentry.[5]


The mission was developed at ESA's Concurrent Design Facility, with studies for the Clean Space programme on de-orbiting techniques being carried out in 2009.[5][10] The first symposium about the mission took place in May 2014.[2] Early testing included successful attempts at capturing scale model satellites by shooting nets from compressed air ejectors.[9] The first design stage was completed in June 2015, with a systems requirements review being conducted in May–June 2016 and a final mission approval taking place in December 2016.[5]

See also


  1. ^ a b Pultarova, Tereza (29 January 2019). "European Space Junk Cleanup Concept Gets New Mission: Refuel and Repair". Retrieved 16 October 2019.
  2. ^ a b "e.Deorbit Symposium". ESA. 6 May 2014. Retrieved 2 June 2015.
  3. ^ a b "Space fishing: ESA floats plan to net space junk". Gizmag. 28 February 2014. Retrieved 2 June 2015.
  4. ^ "E.DEORBIT Mission". ESA. 12 April 2017. Retrieved 6 October 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d "ESA heading towards removing space debris". ESA. 2 June 2015. Retrieved 2 June 2015.
  6. ^ "From Active Debris Removal To In-Orbit Servicing: THE LEGACY OF e.Deorbit". 26 November 2018.
  7. ^ ESA commissions world’s first space debris removal
  8. ^ Robin Biesbroek (22 May 2013). "The e.Deorbit CDF Study" (PDF). Retrieved 2 June 2015.
  9. ^ a b Rick Pantaleo (23 March 2015). "Fishing in Outer Space for Bigger Junk". Voice of America. Retrieved 2 June 2015.
  10. ^ "Clean Space". ESA, Concurrent Design Facility. 3 October 2012. Retrieved 2 June 2015.
  11. ^ "The active space debris removal mission RemoveDebris". Parts 1 and 2 (,
  12. ^ ESA commissions world’s first space debris removal