UK to Play Critical Role in Building ‘the Claw’ – the First Satellite to Remove Space Junk

ClearSpace-1 mission (Credit: ClearSpace)

SWINDON, UK (UK Space Agency PR) — Vital technology for the first ever mission to remove a piece of debris from space is going to be built in the UK, the Science Minister has announced.

Planned for 2025, Clearspace-1 is the first ever space mission dedicated to removing an existing object in orbit, and is a significant first step towards a cleaner space environment. The Clearspace-1 satellite – dubbed ‘The Claw’ – will use a pincer motion to collect debris, before giving it a controlled re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere – allowing it to decompose safely and away from life.

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Why UK is Backing its Leading Space Scientists to Clean up the Cosmos

Alok Sharma

by Alok Sharma
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS)

On 2 July 2018, a £100 million satellite called CryoSat-2 was completing its daily rounds of monitoring ice caps back on Earth from an orbital vantage point 700 kilometres above us, when mission controllers spotted a chunk of space debris hurtling towards it at 17,000 miles per hour.

To avert a potentially catastrophic collision, engineers fired up CryoSat’s thrusters and moved it out of harm’s way. This near miss was not the first, and it will not be the last.

An estimated 20,000 pieces of space debris, better known as ‘space junk’; are whizzing around the Earth as you read this. This includes zombie satellites and whole junkyards’ worth of whirling fragments left over from space missions.

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Government Backs UK Companies Tackling Dangerous Space Junk

Distribution of space debris around Earth (Credit: ESA)

Seven UK companies have been awarded a share of over £1 million [$1.3 million] to help track debris in space

  • Currently there are approximately 160 million objects in orbit – mainly debris – which could collide with satellites vital to services we use every day
  • UK Space Agency and Ministry of Defence sign formal agreement to work together on monitoring threats and hazards in orbit

SWINDON, UK (UK Space Agency PR) –Seven pioneering projects which will develop new sensor technology or artificial intelligence to monitor hazardous space debris, have been announced today by the UK Space Agency.

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