This morning we were lucky enough to watch a live feed of NASA astronauts Commander Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold unpacking the RemoveDEBRIS spacecraft in zero G and loading it into the Kibo airlock. It was fascinating to watch but also somewhat nail-biting - it was a very restricted space and the zero G factor made handling the spacecraft very different to our usual launch site preparations. At one point the spacecraft was given a spin around with just a light touch from one of the astronauts!
RemoveDEBRIS will demonstrate a range of innovative technologies to clean up space debris and will be deployed from the ISS in the next couple of weeks to begin its experiments in orbit.
The RemoveDEBRIS spacecraft was sent to the ISS via the SpaceX CRS-14 launch in early April. The satellite was designed, built and manufactured by a consortium of leading space companies and research institutions, led by the Surrey Space Centre at the University of Surrey and funded by the European Commission. SSTL designed and manufactured the satellite platform.
The project is co-funded by the European Commission and the research learning to the results have received funding from the European Union Seventh Framework Program (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement n°607099.