The experiment, known as Remove Debris, used a one-meter cube satellite built by Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. and launched by SpaceX to the International Space Station earlier this year.  The largest satellite ever deployed from the orbital lab, Remove Debris contained the target satellite seen above, as well as another small satellite it will use to test range-finding sensors. Later, it will also shoot a tethered harpoon at a target that it extends from its body to test a different method of disposal.

These experiments will gave space engineers data about how to construct and deploy an orbital trash collector to deal with the growing problem. Space debris in low-earth orbit increases each year, and plans to launch huge new constellations mean it is only going to get more crowded.

Mission complete, the satellite will ultimately deploy a drag sail to pull itself back down into the atmosphere, where it too will be burnt up and destroyed.

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