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Technology European Space Agency is sending a giant claw into orbit to clean up space junk

07:15  30 november  2020
07:15  30 november  2020 Source:   cnet.com

Two huge chunks of space junk almost collided over Earth

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The European Space Agency is paying the equivalent of over 0 million to remove a single piece of manmade space junk from Earth orbit . The object was part of a rocket launch that sent a satellite into space , and while the satellite made it to its intended destination, the payload adapter has also

Cleaning Up Space Junk The European Space Agency says a self-destructing robot will be sent into orbit in 2025 to He's the director general of the European Space Agency . And he says all that space junk poses a danger to space exploration and to telecommunications that depend on satellites.

There are roughly 2,800 live satellites currently orbiting Earth. That's a lot, but it's absolutely nothing compared to the amount of defunct objects -- AKA space junk -- also circling the globe.

The Claaaaaaaaaaaaawwww... ClearSpace © Provided by CNET The Claaaaaaaaaaaaawwww... ClearSpace

Scientists estimate that almost 3,000 dead satellites are currently orbiting our planet, which doesn't account for the 900,000 pieces of debris, less than 10 centimetres long, that could potentially cause a catastrophe should it hit the wrong satellite at the wrong time.

Scientists and engineers are currently hard at work trying to solve the problem, but the European Space Agency is currently in the beginning stages of executing one of the more bizarre solutions: A space claw that will grip larger defunct satellites and steer them back into the earth's atmosphere where both the satellite and the claw itself can burn up in peace.

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Space junk is debris that comes in all sorts of different shapes and sizes. It could be old rocket Earlier in 2020, the UK Space Agency announced several new investments through its space In 2018, 186 miles above the Earth, a British satellite sent a net into orbit to show how to capture

Earlier this year the UK Space Agency announced a number of new investments, funded through its space They are designed to supercharge the UK’s capabilities to track this junk and monitor the risks of The demonstration, using a small object sent out by the satellite, formed part of a mission to test

a close up of a bowl: The Claaaaaaaaaaaaawwww... © Clearspace

The Claaaaaaaaaaaaawwww...

The plan was initially conceived back in 2019, but now the ESA is officially signing a contract with Swiss start-up ClearSpace SA to build and launch its very first debris removal mission, called ClearSpace-1.

The claw's first target is a VESPA (Vega Secondary Payload Adapter) that's been orbiting Earth since it helped launch an ESA Vega rocket back in 2013. The VESPA weighs 112 kgs and, according to the ESA, is close in size to a small satellite.

The ESA is contributing €86 million to the cost of the mission. It's expected that ClearSpace will raise the rest as it attempts to make a long term business of junk removal. Hopefully this mission can become the first of many, as humanity discovers new and innovative ways to clean up the gargantuan mess it's made of the space above our atmosphere.

ClearSpace SA is hoping to launch its first mission in 2025.

Long live the claw.

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