Every year, the European Space Agency organizes its Space Engineering and Technology Final Presentation Days (SET-FPDs), a remarkable occasion to look back on the recent achievements from its technology programmes. Partners from industry and academia collaborating with ESA under the Technology Development Element programme and the General Support Technology Programme have the chance to present the latest results from their projects, setting the foundations for future collaborations and developments.
The 2019 edition of the SET-FPDs took place 2-4 July at the European Space Research and Technology Centre in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, with the European Space Operations Centre joining from Darmstadt, Germany, on 3 July. It was at this second venue that Juan Luis Gonzalo, from the COMPASS team, briefed our work on the use of sails and tethers as passive deorbiting devices, developed in collaboration with 4 other European partners: LuxSpace, IFAC, CISAS, and UPM. The key takeaway is that sails and tethers can be an efficient and environmentally friendly alternative to ensure space sustainability in the future, but a lot of research remains to be done before their widespread adoption as end-of-life deorbiting devices.
We hope to attend the event again next year with new breakthroughs on this promising alternative for a cleaner space!