e.Deorbit | Want to snag a satellite? Try a fishing net!

One of the promising capture methods currently being studied by ESA is the use of nets to capture non-cooperative space debris.

This technology is also being explored for use in other domains. Recently experts from Michigan Technological University’s HIRoLab developed a “drone-catcher” that has the capability to capture unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) by shooting out a net:



Nets appear to have a very large applicability to debris, because of the associated scalability and low sensitivity to the target attitude. A thorough programme for characterisation, development and testing of throw-net systems is being implemented by ESA.

SKA Polska is one of the companies working with ESA on the development of the net for capturing space debris. They have conducted 0 g testing during parabolic flights, watch this in the video below:



  • John says:

    Considering the similarities between movement in water and the vacuum of space, it’s not too surprising to see that nets are finding use out there too. It’ll be interesting to see what all is snagged by these proposed space nets. Thanks for sharing!

  • Gary Anderson says:

    I like the net concept, and would suggest that all debris be declared “non owned”, but dragging the debris BACK to Earth in a polluting fiery hulk only makes the authoring planet’s atmosphere filthier. If you capture a satellite, you must be able to bring it or it’s components home to be recycled. Until that technology exists, we could declare a safe orbital zone (junk YARD) in space where perhaps the most valuable parts could be cataloged and manually extracted, and others separated and crush compacted. As for very tiny debris, imagine a solar powered orbiting “troller” taking years to fill its hold with 10cm and under low value nuts & bolts. Space is a HUGE place– the problem is that the debris is all in the wrong place! If we just store it safely, it WILL get used eventually by someone.

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