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Summer Science Exhibition 2016 | Monday 4 July - Sunday 10 July | London

Cleaning up space junk

Hands-on at the exhibit

  • Play ‘debris removal’ air hockey.  Prizes for top-scorers, and a place on our leaderboard. 
  • Handle hardware used in space for cleaning up space junk.  
  • Use interactive displays and watch videos about the challenges of removing debris from orbit.

Find out more

Since the beginning of the space age, over 7,000 tonnes of space junk has been generated - mostly empty rocket casings and dead satellites. Most of the objects launched into space are still orbiting the Earth, threatening collisions with active satellites. Our exhibit invites you to explore our flagship RemoveDEBRIS mission, which aims to be the first to test capture technologies that drag space junk back into the Earth’s atmosphere to burn up.

The more space junk there is in Low Earth Orbit, the more likelihood there is that a collision in space will occur. Impacts with orbital debris have already occurred several times, causing catastrophic damage to satellites. The international space station (ISS) has to regularly adjust its position to avoid space debris.  One way to get rid of this orbital refuse is to send space vehicles to capture and ‘de-orbit’ the junk, using tools such as a net, harpoon or robotic arm. Nobody has successfully tried this before, but the RemoveDEBRIS mission aims to be the first in the world.

Presented by: University of SurreyAirbus Defence and Space - UK, France, Germany, Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) - UK