TeSeR (Technology for Self-Removal of Spacecraft) was a Project Initiated in 2016 Aiming to Reduce the Risk of Spacecraft Colliding with Debris in space. Project leader is Airbus Defence and Space Alongside 10 European partners, Including GomSpace.

Orbital space is getting increasingly congested. Space debris threatens space-based infrastructures which are vital for life on Earth. Disused spacecraft are a potentially dangerous source of space debris. TeSeR, which stands for Technology for Self-Removal of Spacecraft, addresses the space debris problem with an innovative approach. TeSeR is an important contribution to a sustainable space environment for future generations.

Eleven European partners from the space sector and academia have formed the TeSeR consortium to hand in hand develop a prototype for a cost-efficient and highly reliable module. The module will ensure that future spacecraft do not present a collision risk once they reach the end of their operational lifetimes of suffer an in-service failure. Under Grant Agreement No 687295, part of the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program, the TeSeR project will receive EU funding or more than € 2.8 million and will run until early 2019.

GomSpace’s role is to develop the interface with the satellite bus and the system responsbile for safe and timely actuation of the re-entry module.

For more information on partners in TeSeR and their role in the project, please go to: teserproject.eu

The issue of space debris has drawn the attention of governments, space agencies, spacecraft operators and manufacturers alike. Some catastrophic orbital events and the sheer number of conjunction warnings have led spacecraft operators, regulators and manufacturers to rethink conventional approaches. Defunct and uncontrolled spacecraft are a dangerous source of new space debris. Each uncontrolled satellite might collide with other satellites or other debris leading to new debris clouds. An example of this is the Iridium-Cosmos collision which occurred on February 10, 2009 over Northern Siberia. In this incident, a defunct and an operating satellite collided and created hundreds of new pieces of debris. As a result, many other spacecraft had to fly avoidance maneuvers and continue to do so today and in the future.

Many spacecraft are not being removed after they finish operating. They may not have the necessary removal technology on board or suffer from technical failures and, thus, turn into space junk. In order to mitigate the space debris problem, all future spacecraft should be removed at the end of their mission. Currently, the engineering of post mission disposal systems is complex and costly. Conventional solutions are usually tailor-made for a specific spacecraft. In contrast, TeSeR will offer a modular, standardized and reliable solution at lower cost.

Working towards a future where 10s of thousands of satellites can co-exist in low earth orbit with no risk for collisions

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