The RemoveDEBRIS harpoon was developed at Airbus’ Stevenage, United Kingdom facility. During a test that took place in February 2019, the harpoon was fired at a satellite panel mounted on a boom that was extended from the RemoveDEBRIS spacecraft. Travelling at a speed of 20 metres per second, the harpoon successfully impacted – and penetrated – the target panel, confirming its ability to capture space debris.
The programme’s fourth and final experiment – set to take place in March – will test a drag sail developed by the Surrey Space Centre that will pull the RemoveDEBRIS spacecraft into the Earth’s atmosphere and force the satellite to deorbit in approximately eight weeks – as opposed to more than two and a half years it would take to do so naturally.?