Firstly, if you’re still unsure of why we need to do anything about a bunch of junk way out in space, check out this useful video by the ESA explaining the critical nature of space junk:
Now, that video is about a year out of date, and since then awareness of the problem has arisen to the point that several agencies are actively tackling the issue. Most notable is the RemoveDebris program:
From the University of Surrey’s Overview of the Mission, we have the following nations and companies to thank for their contributions to the project:
- Mission & Consortium coordination SSC (UK)
- Satellite system engineering ASF (France)
- Platform & Avionics – SSTL (UK)
- Harpoon – Airbus (UK)
- Net – Airbus (Germany)
- Vision Based Navigation – CSEM (Switzerland)/INRIA/Airbus (France/Toulouse)
- Cubesat dispensers – Innovative solutions in space (Holland)
- Target cubesats – Surrey Space Centre (UK)/STE
- Dragsail – Surrey Space Centre (UK)
Keep checking CleanUpSpace.Net for updates on the mission.
Meanwhile, on another continent the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency developed and launched a satellite (also aboard one of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets) aimed at removing debris through a tether system known as KITE. The satellite unfortunately failed in February of 2017.
“Through KITE, JAXA seeks to verify electrodynamic tether technology to remove space debris. We could not unroll KITE’s tether due to deployment system failure. However, the process was confirmed in which electricity was conducted from an electron emitter. Ongoing are detailed analysis on KITE results, which are expected to establish an efficient system to help remove space debris.”
For more information on space junk topics like RemoveDebris, India’s space debris tracking initiative, and the Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee (IADC) check out StudyIQ’s overview.