RemoveDEBRIS deployed into Low Earth Orbit from the ISS

RemoveDEBRIS deployed into Low Earth Orbit from the ISS

The RemoveDEBRIS satellite has been deployed from the International Space Station via Nanorack’s commercially developed Kaber Microsatellite Deployer (Kaber) - and became the largest satellite to ever be deployed from the ISS to date!

RemoveDEBRIS is an Active Debris Removal (ADR) technology demonstration mission which was launched to the Space Station via NanoRacks on the 14th SpaceX Commercial Resupply Mission in early April.

Photos on this page show NASA astronauts Commander Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold last week as they tackled the loading of the spacecraft into the Kibo airlock.  Photos are supplied courtesy of NASA/NanoRacks.  

RemoveDEBRIS is being operated from SSTL's Spacecraft Operations Centre here in Guildford and we locked on to the satellite on its first pass over our ground station - telemetry from that first pass is nominal so we're officially into the spacecraft commissioning phase now.  

The RemoveDEBRIS mission will perform four innovative ADR experiments, beginning in October with the deployment of a net developed by Airbus in Bremen which has been designed to capture a target cubesat.  The mission is then scheduled to test a vision-based navigation system from Airbus in Toulouse and CSEM in Switzerland that uses 2D and 3D LiDaR (light dection and ranging) technology to track a cubesat released from the main spacecraft.  Early in 2019 a harpoon developed by Airbus in Stevenage will be fired at 20 metres/second to penetrate a target made of composite material.  Finally, the RemoveDEBRIS craft will deploy a large dragsail to speed de-orbit into the Earth’s atmosphere. 

Sir Martin Sweeting, our Chief Executive, says “SSTL’s expertise in designing and building low cost, small satellite missions has been fundamental to the success of RemoveDEBRIS, a landmark technology demonstrator for Active Debris Removal missions that will begin a new era of space junk clearance in Earth’s orbit.” 

Our thanks go to NASA’s International Space Station Program Office, JAXA, Space-X and NanoRacks for getting RemoveDEBRIS safely into orbit. 

The RemoveDEBRIS consortium consists of:

Mission and Consortium coordination – Surrey Space Centre (UK)
Satellite system engineering – ASF (France)
Platform, Avionics and spacecraft operations – SSTL (UK)
Harpoon – Airbus (UK)
Net – Airbus (Germany)
Vision Based Navigation – CSEM (Switzerland)/ INRIA/ Airbus (Toulouse)
CubeSat dispensers – Innovative solutions in space (Holland)
Target CubeSats – Surrey Space Centre (UK)/ STE
Dragsail – Surrey Space Centre (UK)

The project is co-funded by the European Commission and the research leading to the results has received funding from the European Union Seventh Framework Program (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement n°607099.