The use of deployable nets to catch derelict satellites as they tumble in space was explored recently in weightlessness. The experiment was carried out during a week-long visit to the National Research Council of Canada’s site on Ottawa airport in February 2015, including two days of parabolic flights on their Falcon 20 aircraft.
The first part of the video shows a nylon net being fired from a compressed air gun between two researchers, shown in real time. The net entangled a scale-model satellite. The next part shows slowed-down high-speed HD footage from cameras placed both ahead of (left) and behind (right). This footage will be used to complete computer simulations (the output is seen in the final part of the video), which will help to develop full-sized nets for space debris removal, potentially starting with ESA’s e.Deorbit mission.
The National Research Council of Canada parabolic flights were contracted by Poland’s SKA Polska company, overseeing the research project for ESA. Other members of the project team include Italy’s STAM company and Poland’s OptiNav company.