Swiss Space Systems Announces $16 Million Investment in Debris Cleaning Satellite

Payerne, Switzerland (S3 PR) — The CleanSpace One satellite has a new ally in its mission to clean up space debris. EPFL has entered into a partnership with Swiss Space Systems (S3). The company will invest CHF 15 million [$16 million] in the project and will launch the satellite into orbit.

In 2012, EPFL announced its intention to design and launch CleanSpace One, a satellite whose mission is to begin to clean up the thousands of bits of jettisoned rocket and satellite components orbiting Earth at speeds of more than 28,000 km/h. The mission is crucial for the future of the space industry. Now Swiss Space Systems – S3 has joined the project. The Swiss company is developing a new method to launch satellites weighing up to 250 kg, and will take charge of CleanSpace One’s launch, now scheduled for 2018. EPFL and S3 announced their partnership publicly on September 10, 2013.

The debris orbiting Earth is accumulating. Although collisions with functioning satellites are rare, each collision can generate several thousand new bits of debris. The problem is becoming increasingly serious and making space missions more complicated.

CleanSpace One’s mission is to grab hold of a piece of space junk – in this case an out-of-commission Swiss nanosatellite measuring 10cm on each side – and thrust it into the atmosphere, where it will burn up. Navigating to and seizing the ex-satellite is a formidable feat of engineering.