ClearSpace-1 Debris Removal Mission Target Struck by New Space Debris

ClearSpace-1 Debris Removal Mission Target Struck by New Space Debris

On 10 August 2023, ESA’s Space Debris Office was informed by the United States 18th Space Defense Squadron that new objects had been detected in the vicinity of a payload adapter. This adapter, named VESPA, was left in orbit following the 2013 launch of a Vega rocket from ESA’s spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. The object is a 113 kg, two-meter-diameter, conical upper portion of a payload adapter associated with the VV02 Vega launch that delivered the Proba-V, VNREDSat-1 and ESTCube-1 satellites into Earth orbit.

The new debris is believed to originate from the VESPA adapter, which is in an orbit with the perigee at 660 km altitude, apogee at 790 km, and an inclination of 98.72 degrees. This payload adapter is the subject of the upcoming ClearSpace-1 active space debris removal (ADR) mission. It is being developed as the first-ever mission to remove an existing derelict object from orbit through highly precise and complex, close-proximity and capture operations.

ESA procured the ClearSpace-1 mission as a service from Clear Space in order to demonstrate the technologies needed for debris removal and as a first step to establishing a new, sustainable, and striving commercial space ecosystem. The information currently available indicates that the most likely cause of the event was the hypervelocity impact of a small, untracked object that resulted in a low-energy release of new fragments. A preliminary assessment indicates that the increased collision risk to other missions posed by these fragments is extremely low.

The US 18th Space Defense Squadron has conducted further tracking, and the TIRA system of the Fraunhofer Institute for High-Frequency Physics and Radar Techniques in Germany and the Polish “European Optical Network” members (under ESA contract) have also conducted independent observations. These observations indicate that the main object appears intact and has not experienced significant alteration to its orbit.

The development of the ClearSpace-1 mission will continue as planned while additional data on the event is collected. ESA and industrial partners are carefully evaluating the event’s impact on the mission. A full analysis will last for several weeks. This fragmentation event underlines the relevance of the ClearSpace-1 mission. The most significant threat posed by larger objects of space debris is that they fragment into clouds of smaller objects that can each cause significant damage to active satellites. To minimize the number of fragmentation events, we must urgently reduce the creation of new space debris and begin actively mitigating the impact of existing objects.

Click here to learn more about ClearSpace-1 Debris Removal Mission.


Publisher: SatNow

GNSS Constellations - A list of all GNSS satellites by constellations

beidou

Satellite NameOrbit Date
BeiDou-3 G4Geostationary Orbit (GEO)17 May, 2023
BeiDou-3 G2Geostationary Orbit (GEO)09 Mar, 2020
Compass-IGSO7Inclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)09 Feb, 2020
BeiDou-3 M19Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)16 Dec, 2019
BeiDou-3 M20Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)16 Dec, 2019
BeiDou-3 M21Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)23 Nov, 2019
BeiDou-3 M22Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)23 Nov, 2019
BeiDou-3 I3Inclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)04 Nov, 2019
BeiDou-3 M23Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)22 Sep, 2019
BeiDou-3 M24Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)22 Sep, 2019

galileo

Satellite NameOrbit Date
GSAT0223MEO - Near-Circular05 Dec, 2021
GSAT0224MEO - Near-Circular05 Dec, 2021
GSAT0219MEO - Near-Circular25 Jul, 2018
GSAT0220MEO - Near-Circular25 Jul, 2018
GSAT0221MEO - Near-Circular25 Jul, 2018
GSAT0222MEO - Near-Circular25 Jul, 2018
GSAT0215MEO - Near-Circular12 Dec, 2017
GSAT0216MEO - Near-Circular12 Dec, 2017
GSAT0217MEO - Near-Circular12 Dec, 2017
GSAT0218MEO - Near-Circular12 Dec, 2017

glonass

Satellite NameOrbit Date
Kosmos 2569--07 Aug, 2023
Kosmos 2564--28 Nov, 2022
Kosmos 2559--10 Oct, 2022
Kosmos 2557--07 Jul, 2022
Kosmos 2547--25 Oct, 2020
Kosmos 2545--16 Mar, 2020
Kosmos 2544--11 Dec, 2019
Kosmos 2534--27 May, 2019
Kosmos 2529--03 Nov, 2018
Kosmos 2527--16 Jun, 2018

gps

Satellite NameOrbit Date
Navstar 82Medium Earth Orbit19 Jan, 2023
Navstar 81Medium Earth Orbit17 Jun, 2021
Navstar 78Medium Earth Orbit22 Aug, 2019
Navstar 77Medium Earth Orbit23 Dec, 2018
Navstar 76Medium Earth Orbit05 Feb, 2016
Navstar 75Medium Earth Orbit31 Oct, 2015
Navstar 74Medium Earth Orbit15 Jul, 2015
Navstar 73Medium Earth Orbit25 Mar, 2015
Navstar 72Medium Earth Orbit29 Oct, 2014
Navstar 71Medium Earth Orbit02 Aug, 2014

irnss

Satellite NameOrbit Date
NVS-01Geostationary Orbit (GEO)29 May, 2023
IRNSS-1IInclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)12 Apr, 2018
IRNSS-1HSub Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (Sub-GTO)31 Aug, 2017
IRNSS-1GGeostationary Orbit (GEO)28 Apr, 2016
IRNSS-1FGeostationary Orbit (GEO)10 Mar, 2016
IRNSS-1EGeosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)20 Jan, 2016
IRNSS-1DInclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)28 Mar, 2015
IRNSS-1CGeostationary Orbit (GEO)16 Oct, 2014
IRNSS-1BInclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)04 Apr, 2014
IRNSS-1AInclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)01 Jul, 2013