ClearSpace-1 is planned for launch in 2025 and will be the first mission to remove an item of space debris from orbit. After a competitive bid process, the European Space Agency has awarded a service contract to a consortium led by the Swiss startup company ClearSpace, which is staffed by space debris experts from the École polytechnique fedérale de Lausanne (EPFL) research institute.
The service contract model is a different way of working on missions for ESA. Usually the agency takes an active role in defining how a mission works. In this instance, however, it is paying ClearSpace to remove a piece of space junk but not specifying how that should be done. In this way, ESA is hoping to stimulate a commercial market for comparatively low-cost space debris removal.
Read more at The Guardian