How a Swiss robot plans to clean up space

Switzerland's ClearSpace startup has won a major European Space Agency contract to clean up space junk with a robot. The increasing amounts of debris pose risks to satellites and other space missions.

This content was published on December 5, 2020 - 11:00

ClearSpace is using technology developed by engineers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL). Their four-armed robotic junk collector will be launched into space by the European Space Agency (ESA) in 2025.

Its first mission is to grab a small piece of a European Vega rocket, launched in 2013. A lot of debris has accumulated over six decades of low-orbit activities and ESA hopes the mission will pave the way for a wide-reaching clean-up operation.

You can find an overview of ongoing debates with our journalists here. Please join us!

If you want to start a conversation about a topic raised in this article or want to report factual errors, email us at

Change your password

Do you really want to delete your profile?

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Almost finished... We need to confirm your email address. To complete the subscription process, please click the link in the email we just sent you.

Discover our weekly must-reads for free!

Sign up to get our top stories straight into your mailbox.

The SBC Privacy Policy provides additional information on how your data is processed.