27 March 2015 aerospace-technology.com
The ESA is seeking new designs and techniques to collect and remove derelict satellites in orbit.
The agency aims to develop common modular de-orbit systems and techniques that can be incorporated into the future satellites manufactured in Europe.
The companies and institutes will be asked for proposals on low-orbit satellite platforms next month.
ESA Clean Space initiative head Luisa Innocenti said: "Space industry is facing up to the problem of achieving compliance with mitigation regulations, while minimising any impact on the cost and effectiveness of their missions."
"A short list of around 25 mitigation methods will be finalised, followed up by work to create detailed workplans, which will then be presented to next year's ESA Ministerial Council for approval."
The agency will evaluate the selected concepts at its ESTEC technical centre in Noordwijk, Netherlands.
ESTEC's concurrent design facility will facilitate multiple specialists to work on the same software models at the same time, the ESA said.
Derelict satellites are left to tumble uncontrolled after the end of their operations, posing a collision risks and could explode.
Consequently, regulations for 'space debris mitigation' have been implemented by the global space agencies, and will soon be finalised as commercial standards.
The regulations are for removing satellites operating from under 500km altitude, within a 25 year limit through drag. Those higher in space need to be assisted in order to bring them down.
The mitigation systems considered so far include compact solid rocket boosters, which could be used to despatch satellites down or move them into 'graveyard orbits', solar sails and drag-augmentation devices.