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Call for Media: ESA and ClearSpace SA sign contract for world’s first debris removal mission

on 30 November 2020

Journalists are invited to follow an online round table for media on Tuesday, 1 December, at 13:30 CET (14:30 local time in Romania) on the ClearSpace-1 mission. ESA is signing a contract with an industrial team led by the Swiss start-up ClearSpace SA to purchase a unique service: the first removal of an item of space debris from orbit. Research-Development and Industrial entities from Romania will also participate in the mission.

In 2025, ClearSpace SA will launch the first active debris removal mission, ClearSpace-1, which will rendezvous, capture and bring down for reentry a Vespa payload adapter. Mission experts will give an overview of the project status, explain the ambitious mission design and detail the next steps leading to launch.

The Vespa Payload adapter was left in an approximately 801 km by 664 km-altitude gradual disposal orbit, complying with space debris mitigation regulations, following the second flight of Vega back in 2013. With a mass of 112 kg, the Vespa target is close in size to a small satellite.

In almost 60 years of space activities, more than 5550 launches have resulted in some 42 000 tracked objects in orbit, of which about 23 000 remain in space and are regularly tracked. With today’s annual launch rates averaging nearly 100, and with break-ups continuing to occur at average historical rates of four to five per year, the number of debris objects in space will steadily increase. ClearSpace-1 will demonstrate the technical ability and commercial capacity to significantly enhance the long-term sustainability of spaceflight. The mission is supported within ESA’s Space Safety Programme based at the agency’s ESOC operations centre in Darmstadt, Germany.

Programme on Tuesday, 1 December
13:30 CET – 14:30 CET

Participants
• Jan Wörner, ESA Director General
• Rolf Densing, ESA Director of Operations
• Eric Morel de Westgaver, ESA Director of Industry, Procurement & Legal Services
• Holger Krag, Head of ESA’s Space Safety Programme
• Luisa Innocenti, Head of ESA’s Clean Space Office
• Luc Piguet, CEO of ClearSpace SA
• Muriel Richard-Noca, Chief Engineer of ClearSpace SA
• Renato Krpoun, Head of the Swiss Space Office
• Martin Vetterli, President of EPFL

The participants will each give short statements before journalists get the opportunity to ask questions. Journalists are invited to register at the following link by Monday, 30 November. Details to join the online round table will be provided after registration. The briefing will be in English. For further questions, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Image credit: ClearSpace