CleanSpaceOne to vacuum up space debris

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cleanspaceone.jpgEven space needs a bit of a Spring-clean, and after years of boldly exploring regions of the cosmos where few humans have dared to float, we’ve left it in a bit of a state up there. Now a team from The Swiss Space Centre at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) are preparing a solution to the space clutter.

They’re planning on launching a satellite called CleanSpaceOne, which will work a bit like a vacuum cleaner, sucking up all the debris left behind after humanity’s many trips to space.

According to EPFL, “16,000 objects larger than 10cm in diameter and hundreds of millions of smaller particles are ripping around the earth at speeds of several kilometres per second,” which must be a pretty terrifying prospect for any astronaut who has ever had to do a space walk.

“It has become essential to be aware of the existence of this debris and the risks that are run by its proliferation,” said Claude Nicollier, an astronaut and EPFL professor.

Two models are being considered for the clean up operation: one that collects the debris and then falls back to Earth, burning up in the atmosphere in the process, and another which collects the debris and fires it away into the further reaches of space, while staying in orbit to continue the clean up operation.

“We want to offer and sell a whole family of ready-made systems, designed as sustainably as possible, that are able to de-orbit several different kinds of satellites,” centre director Volker Gass said.

“Space agencies are increasingly finding it necessary to take into consideration and prepare for the elimination of the stuff they are sending into space. We want to be the pioneers in this area.”

Via: Sky News

Gerald Lynch