RemoveDEBRIS: We Gotta Clean the Mess We Made in Outer Space

Ben Spindler '21, Staff Writer

Recently, on March 30th, SpaceX successfully launched their Falcon 9 rocket into space. This may seem like any normal Spacex launch, but it’s not. This, in a matter of fact is a very historic launch; this launch is carrying the very first space module that is designed to clean up all the space debris in Earth’s low atmosphere also known as Remove DEBRIS program. Remove DEBRIS was created and designed by Surry University and multiple European counterparts such the UK, Germany, Holland, France, and Switzerland. Though the first 2 in space are just test modules, the actual working modules are still in production.

The Remove DEBRIS module consists of four main components net capture, harpoon capture, vision based navigation, and a drag sail. The net capture feature is exactly what it sounds like, a net that captures debris, the harpoon capture module on the other hand uses an advanced targeting system to locate and capture debris. The vision based navigation is by far the most important because it help the module stay in orbit, helps dodge larger pieces of space junk, and helps the module de-orbit. Finally the drag sail helps slow down the module so it can de-orbit properly as it burns up in the atmosphere with the space junk in it!

Remove DEBRIS is a college program at Sully university and it is funded the the European commission. This is remarkable because these big European companies clearly have faith in this program. This program could be the start of a bigger thing! Other programs like this have already been initiated but haven’t really been as successful as the RemoveDERBIS program.

Hopefully, this program will succeed where others have not.