April 23, 2024

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A new EU mission has sent some suitably space-age tech into the cosmos. On a Vega rocket that launched from the European spaceport in French Guyana on Monday, the union sent six satellites and nine experiments into orbit for testing.

The programme aims to boost the EU’s space sector and broader tech innovations. According to the bloc, the mission is “closing the gap between the development of a technology and its commercialisation.”

That may prove a tricky task, as some of the concepts are straight out of a sci-fi movie. Here are our five favourite projects getting the in-orbit testing.

1. A ‘plasma brake’ to deorbit satellites

A mini satellite built by Estonian students will demonstrate de-orbiting with plasma brakes.

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Named ESTCube2, the device uses an electric sail to repel plasma, which creates a drag to slow down dead satellites. As a result, the space junk loses altitude and burns up in the atmosphere — before causing a disaster.

The tech could even one day power spacecraft without fuel.

We dug into the details in a separate article. Click here for our full report on the cosmic decelerator.

A person holding the EST Cube-2 satellite