Moment of capture: RemoveDebris net snags the errant Debrisat 1. Courtesy: SSTL

The University of Surrey/SSTL-built RemoveDebris spacecraft demonstrator satellite made an ejection of a 2U cubesat called Debrisat 1 to mimic debris at 2306 GMT on 16 September. It then fired an untethered net to successfully snag the tumbling Debrisat 1. In this instance the net was not tethered to the mothership. On future missions this would drag the debris back to the main spacecraft to remove it from independent orbit. This time the net just wrapped around the cubesat mimicking space “debris”,and will increase its surface area and drag coefficient to accelerate orbital decay. The RemoveDebris mission will later carry out a test of other technologies including a harpoon and inflatable drag sail.

Update on 18 Feb 2019: The harpoon experiment on 8 Feb 2019 to strike and “capture” a target plate extended from the satellite on a 1.5 m boom mimicking a piece of debris was successful.