Recently, elsa-d, the world's first commercial satellite to clean up space waste, was successfully launched into 550 km low earth orbit. The satellite is from astroscale company of Japan.
Space waste generally comes from the debris of man-made satellites and spacecraft. According to the data of London natural history museum, there are at least 128 million pieces in earth orbit, of which 34000 pieces are more than 10 cm in diameter. More and more space waste will bring danger to man-made satellites or other spacecraft in earth orbit. Satellites that clean up space debris can capture the debris and take it to earth.
However, elsa-d satellite is not really used to clean up space garbage. It consists of a 175 kg main body and a 17 kg target. The target will simulate space garbage. The main body is equipped with a magnetic docking system, which will release and capture the target in space.
Elsa-d satellite will carry out three experimental capture, and the difficulty is increasing. In the third capture, the main body will search the target in a wide range, and carry out a series of operations such as approaching and capturing. After successful capture, the subject will fall into the atmosphere and burn with the target.
Astroscale said that if the experiment is successful, it is possible to promote the magnetic docking system on the satellite in the future, clean up space garbage and protect the safety of space orbit.