CT to build the INSIDeR space debris recovery solution ground demonstrator.

Key points

  • CT will announce the construction of the INSIDeR ground demonstrator, and the set-up of an industrial consortium, as well as the seeking of the necessary financing for the flight demonstration stage. A prototype is expected to be placed in orbit by the end 2024/early 2025.
  • INSIDeR is an innovative, safe, simple and adaptable solution for Active Debris Removal (ADR), patented by CT, and is the result of 15 years’ development, co-financed by the CNES and the European Space Agency (ESA).
  • CT’s European R+D team is responsible for the design of the system and for coordinating technical teams.

The emergence of NewSpace enterprises and the significant numbers of constellations both deployed and/or planned will exponentially grow the amount of objects in orbit, leading to an increased risk of collision and creation of new debris.

Collisions and explosions in the orbital zone between 700 to 1,100 km above the earth have created a staggering amount of debris: 34+ Thousand items measuring over 10 cm that can be tracked; 1 Million pieces larger than 1 cm, still capable of damaging a satellite; and 130 Million pieces of debris smaller than 1 cm.

INSIDeR ADR solution key features and advantages

  • ADR solution able to adapt to a wide range of debris: the size of the net can be adjusted to debris of any size and shape and its inflatable structure can also be adapted depending on the mission in question.
  • Simplicity of development. Its concept is based on a combination of two simple technologies, a capture net & an inflatable structure, that have already been tested and approved in space and qualified and tested on the ground, thus reducing development costs.
  • INSIDeR, designed in KIT form, can be plugged-in to a satellite that is on its own particular mission.
  • Secure system linked to several control points during the approach phase so that the capture sequence can be validated, and capable of manoeuvring and avoidance until the moment of contact with the debris.
  • Integrated industrial solution easy to deploy on satellite constellations and enables a new satellite to return with old space junk, meeting the needs of both the satellite and launcher industries.

A complimentary partnership for innovation and sustainable development

CT’s European R+D team is responsible for the design of the system and for coordinating Michelin’s technical teams, a unique partner in the project. Michelin’s contribution to the project centres on two specific areas of its expertise: research in modelling and materials, and that of its industry in the field of inflatable structures inflatable structures (AirCaptif).

CT is a leading engineering company in technological innovation over the entire product life cycle, with R&D engineers specialising in the space sector. Its French teams, based in Guyancourt, are the inventors of INSIDeR and will be supporting the project through the completion of the prototype flight.

According to Jesus Prieto, CT President and CEO : “R&D and Innovation are part of CT’s DNA, with over 50+ innovation projects yearly and numerous links and consortiums with industrialists, start-ups and research laboratories. This new project with Michelin as a partner illustrates our ability to be a proactive force, capable of offering our clients innovative solutions and at the same time enabling our engineers to continue honing and enhancing their skills.”

AirCaptif, a Michelin company, is an innovative French start-up based at Elancourt with unique know-how and skills. It designs and manufactures in France inflatable solutions with modular assembly that are ultra-light and resistant.

It manages the whole value chain from design stage to maintenance, assisted by modern industrial methods and means that enable the company to meet the prototype or serial production needs of their B2B and B2C clients. Breaking with traditional methods (such as metallic structures, PVC, high pressure, air blast) AirCaptif designs are practical, economical and sustainable while also retaining aesthetic considerations and individually specified criteria. Their simple solutions for use are 10 times less heavy than metallic-textile alternatives and 4 times less than PVC inflatables and in particular they use a single inflation point for rapid implementation.

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