The first spacecraft to demonstrate active space debris-removal technologies — such as a harpoon, a net and a drag sail — in orbit has been released from the International Space Station to commence its mission.
Astronauts at the space station sent the 100-kilogram (220 lbs.) RemoveDebris spacecraft off for its pioneering mission using Canadarm2, the 17.6-meter-long (57.7 feet) robotic arm used for servicing and capturing cargo ships.
The spacecraft is the largest payload deployed from the space station, according to NanoRacks, the Houston-based company coordinating RemoveDebris’ deployment. The spacecraft drifted away from the orbital outpost at about 11:30 p.m. BST (7:30am EDT) on Wednesday, June 20.