RemoveDEBRIS is aimed at performing key active debris removal technology demonstrations to find the best way to capture the estimated 40,000 pieces of space debris that is orbiting Earth.


Besides our Centre the consortium includes:

  • Airbus Defence and Space (Germany, UK, and France/Toulouse), the world’s second largest space company
  • Airbus Safran Launchers (France); SSTL, a world leader in small satellites (UK)
  • ISIS (Netherlands)
  • CSEM (Switzerland)
  • Inria (France)
  • Stellenbosch University (South Africa).

The work is shared amongst the members of the consortium as briefly described below:

  • Mission and Consortium coordination SSC (UK)
  • Satellite system engineering ASF (France)
  • Platform and Avionics - SSTL (UK)
  • Harpoon - Airbus (UK)
  • Net - Airbus (Germany)
  • Vision Based Navigation - CSEM (Switzerland)/INRIA/Airbus (France/Toulouse)
  • Cubesat dispensers - Innovative solutions in space (Holland)
  • Target cubesats - Surrey Space Centre (UK)/STE
  • Dragsail - Surrey Space Centre (UK).

Academic team

From January 2016 the RemoveDebris consortium has been led by Mr Simon Fellowes.

Chris Bridges profile image

Dr Christopher Bridges

Reader in On-Board Data Handling (OBDH)

Craig Underwood profile image

Professor Craig Underwood

Emeritus Professor of Spacecraft Engineering


The sequence in which the experiments are undertaken is:

  • Week 1 to 6: Docking and transfer to ISS, payload preparation on ISS.
  • Week 6 to 16: RemoveDEBRIS deployment from ISS and commissioning.
  • Week 16 to 20: Demo and data download, VBN demo and data download, harpoon demo and data download, drag sail demo.
  • Week 20 to one and half years: Passivation, de-orbiting and re-entry to end the mission.

After launch and deployment from the International Space Station, the following four experiments are undertaken.