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There are legal hurdles to cleaning up space debris. Under the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, any spacecraft launched by a nation remains its property even decades after it stopped working. Credit: NASA
ESA was planning the most ambitious debris removal demonstration: capturing its 8,000-kilogram Envisat environmental-monitoring satellite in 2023 and performing a controlled atmospheric reentry. Now, ESA is exploring synergies between on-orbit servicing and debris removal spacecraft. Credit: ESA