Design and manufacture of a system that captures space debris

This project has been designed by the ESA, headed by GMV with the participation of the Polytechnic University of Milan. Its purpose is to design a software simulator to recreate the deployment of a zero gravity net and its interaction with the satellite that is being captured.

The purpose is to propose an alternative technology to existing systems (towing systems, propulsion systems, contactless systems such as ion rays...) to remove uncontrolled objects from saturated orbits and, thus, prevent collisions with operational satellites.

In the project, PRODINTEC collaborated in the design and manufacture of the system that launches the net; which consists of two racks that are anchored to the plane and that contain all the devices the make up the experiment: a container to hold the net, a mechanical system to open the container, a pneumatic system to eject four masses simultaneously and an electric system to activate all the devices.

Following its manufacture and validation on land, tests were conducted during parabolic flights in June 2015. During these flights, the net was deployed and opened perfectly, capturing a test model. The ESA has expressed its satisfaction with the results of this project and is convinced that PATENDER will boost net-based space debris collecting technology.