Swiss company ClearSpace has signed an agreement with Arianespace, which means that ClearSpace’s debris removal satellite, ClearSpace-1, can be sent into space within a few years.
ClearSpace’s business idea is to develop spacecraft that will act as space garbage collectors and remove defunct satellites from Earth’s orbit. Now it seems that the launch of their first cleanup mission is getting closer. It is planned that ClearSpace-1 will lift off aboard one of Arianespace’s Vega C rockets sometime in 2026.
Once ClearSpace-1 is in space, the plan is for it to use its four robotic arms to grab a satellite weighing around 100 kg and then bring both the satellite and itself into Earth’s atmosphere, where they will burn up. When we wrote about ClearSpace a few years ago, there was some criticism of their business idea as their debris spacecraft are not reusable, which could make it very expensive to remove all the defunct satellites in orbit around the Earth.
The illustration above shows how it could look when the ClearSpace debris spacecraft grabs a satellite. In the picture below, ClearSpace CEO Luc Piguet and Arianespace CEO Stéphane Israël can be seen.