The publication of the Invitation to Tender for the next phase of the e.Deorbit Mission, the e.Deorbit Consolidation Phase, marks an important step towards the implementation of the world’s first Active Debris Removal (ADR) mission.

This activity builds upon the work conducted by ESA and European industry since 2013 such as the e.Deorbit Phase A and the e.Deorbit Phase B1, together with a number of technology developments such as:

  • Capture mechanisms: Robotic arm grippers, clamping mechanisms, nets, harpoons and tethers
  • Guidance, navigation and control (GNC): Cameras and controllers for close proximity operations and synchronised motion with uncooperative targets.

e.Deorbit clamping the target
Copyright: ESA-David Ducros

This Phase will provide an opportunity for the companies involved to work on refining a number of system aspects, such as looking into the synergies with the Space Tug. More information on the Space Tug is available in a previous post: Enabling Science Fiction through Debris Removal

The following step, the e.Deorbit Maturation Phase, is planned for late 2017, early 2018. The e.Deorbit Maturation Phase is a 41 M€ proposal to the ESA Member States with a high focus on technology development. This approach will enable the ESA Member States to take a decision at the next Ministerial Council in 2019 on implementation of an Active Debris Removal or Space Tug mission.

Read the post e.Deorbit: it is time to make active debris removal a reality for the European space sector to get more information on the e.Deorbit Maturation Phase .