The Deorbit Kit is a self-contained suite of equipment that enables space vehicles of any size to perform propulsive decommissioning maneuvers. The service is currently being developed as part of a €2,197M contract under ESA’s Space Safety Programme (S2P) by a consortium led by D-Orbit that includes Airbus Defence and Space, ArianeGroup, GMV Innovating Solutions, and Optimal Structural Solutions.
The decommissioning kit includes a propulsive module and the control unit needed to activate it, even if the main satellite bus has become unresponsive. The device, which can be tailored to space vehicles of any size, enables satellites to perform a propulsive decommissioning maneuver at the end of their mission or even after a failure. For the in-orbit validation mission, the multi-purpose kit will be installed on a Vega rocket payload adapter called Vespa (Vega Secondary Payload Adapter), which is usually left in a disposal. Thanks to the kit, the Vespa will be decommissioned through a propulsive direct re-entry maneuver over a designated uninhabited area shortly after the rocket has deployed its payload.
D-Orbit has been investigating decommissioning solutions since 2011. These foundational capabilities are essential to developing active debris removal mission concepts and other applications of autonomous deorbiting systems for future LEO missions. This mission will pave the way for future commercial services and debris removal missions to clear out the most crowded orbits.