Technology for Self-Removal of Spacecraft


The TeSeR project is tasked with the development of innovative altitude control systems that allow defunct spacecraft to return safely to Earth. The project, therefore, also contributes to solutions that will help solve the space debris issue to ensure a sustainable space environment for future generations. It was funded by the European Commission in the Horizon 2020 framework with almost EUR 3 million (grant agreement number 687295) running from February 2016 until March 2019.

As a part of the project, the Self-deployable Deorbiting Space Structures (SDSS) technology has been applied. The SDSS technology allows for usage of low risk system components and a redundant adaptation which increase the operational reliability of the spacecraft. Due to the relative low complexity/cost of the SDSS it is the objective to fit all future spacecrafts with this technology – the analogy is airbags in cars – providing added mission security for the spacecraft and the removal.
In LEO up to 700km the Horizon 2020 project TeSeR have done research which suggests this technology will effectively perform a semi-controlled removal of a spacecraft. Developers of future spacecrafts will, by using this technology, meet the UN requirements for space debris mitigation.

The proposed design is modular and in TeSeR it is investigated if the design allows to be scaled/adapted to a wide of satellite sizes and configurations. Specifically the SDSS will adapt to the Post Mission Disposal (PMD) unit also developed in the TeSeR project. The principle has been demonstrated and a prototype is being developed for more thorough testing as well as preparation for real life application, i.e. launch opportunity.

Aalborg University were responsible for Workpackage 4 where Airbus were the coordinator (and potential launch customer) of TeSeR. The project were conducted together with 10 notable institutes and companies from all across Europe with experts who have been working in the space debris issue for many years.


AAU Space Group - Researchers

Anders Schmidt Kristensen

Associate Professor

Department of Energy Technology

Phone: +45 9940 7673
Email: askr@et.aau.dk


Technology for Self-Removal of Spacecraft






February 2016 - March 2019


  • Aalborg University
  • GomSpace
  • Airbus
  • D-Orbit
  • HTG - Hyperschall Technologie Göttingen GmbH
  • University of Surrey
  • University of Stratclyde
  • Universität der Bundeswehr München
  • PHS Space Limited
  • Beazley Furlonge Limited
  • Weber-Steinhaus & Smith