May 9, 2023 – Arianespace and ClearSpace signed a launch contract for ClearSpace-1, the first active debris removal mission that will capture and deorbit a derelict space debris of 112 kg. The launch, scheduled starting as soon as the second-half of 2026, will use the European light launcher Vega C to release the spacecraft into a Low Earth/Sun-Synchronous drift orbit for commissioning and critical tests. The servicer spacecraft will then be raised to the client object for rendezvous, capture and subsequent deorbitation through an atmospheric reentry. The space debris object removed by this mission is the upper part of a Vespa (Vega Secondary Payload Adapter) left in a ‘gradual disposal’ orbit, in compliance with space debris mitigation regulations, during the second flight of a Vega launcher in 2013. Close in mass to a small satellite, the simple shape of this space debris will allow to demonstrate the technologies of the spacecraft and its quartet of robotic arms, thus opening the way for more challenging missions with multiple captures per flight. In 2019, ESA selected ClearSpace from a field of more than a dozen candidates to lead the first mission to remove an ESA-owned item from orbit. Supported by ESA’s new Space Safety programme, the mission is being procured as a service contract with a startup-led commercial consortium, to help establish a new market for in-orbit servicing, as well as debris removal.