Stay on target: space harpoon tested successfully

Keep outer space tidy

A hi-tech harpoon designed to pick up debris in space has undergone a successful test.

The Airbus Stevenage designed device was fired from the RemoveDEBRIS satellite, one of the world’s first attempts to address dangerous space debris.

You can find out more about the RemoveDEBRIS project here.

The team is now preparing for the final experiment, which is set to take place in March and will see RemoveDEBRIS inflate a sail that will drag the satellite into Earth’s atmosphere where it will be destroyed.

Chris Burgess, Harpoon Lead Engineer at Airbus Defence and Space, said:

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The RemoveDEBRIS was designed to test a range of experiments to help tackle the problem of space junk.

The satellite was designed and built by a consortium of space companies and research institutions, led by the University of Surrey.

According to the US Space Surveillance Network there are 40,000 pieces of 'space junk' weighing more than 7,600 tonnes - with some moving faster than a speeding bullet, approaching speeds of 30,000 miles per hour.