The ClearSpace-1 Service will constitute an unprecedented environmental recovery action of an ESA space object currently in orbit since 2013. The objective of the ADRIOS ClearSpace-1 — service is not only to remove an ESA-owned object (a VESPA Upper Part COSPAR-ID 2013-021D) from orbit, but also to develop and demonstrate the complete value chain necessary for sustainable and commercial Active Debris Removal (ADR) service, and to set a precedent in the space industry. This initiative aims at fostering capacities for the future commercial market of in-orbit services for institutional and private sector needs.
In 2021, eSpace coordinated the start of the activities to be performed by a consortium of EPFL labs within the frame of the ADRIOS mission. ClearSpace-1 Service’s main goal is the capture and removal of a payload adapter, the VESPA, an ESA-owned object, by the end of 2025 at the latest. It also aims to demonstrate the basic technical building blocks of the complete assisted removal value chain (technologies and operations): uncooperative rendezvous, capture (including stack stabilisation), stacked de-orbiting, and target release, enabling a versatile and safe commercial assisted disposal. Finally, this in-orbit demonstration shall enable an economically viable commercial service.
The capture and removal operation can be divided into several phases, which are:
• Launch into orbit at 500 km altitude
• Perform LEOP (launch and early orbit phase), commissioning and phasing to the target
• Rendezvous with target
• Capture and stack the target
• De-orbit the target.
ClearSpace is the prime contractor of the ClearSpace-1 Service and therefore has the responsibility of systems engineering, flight and ground software development, management of ground and mission control infrastructure, and mission operations. EPFL consortium includes the Computer Vision Lab, the Embedded Systems Lab, the Rehabilitation and Assistive Robotics Group part of the Biorobotics Lab, and the Computational Solid Mechanics Laboratory. As part of the mission and system developments, EPFL is responsible for capture system and relative navigation developments as well as system engineering support, developments that are key for a successful debris removal mission. eSpace is responsible for managing the aforementioned activities project within EPFL.