It has always been rather ironic to me that the space surrounding the earth doesn’t actually have a whole lot of space thanks to the hordes of satellites in orbit. Other than satellites that are actually working, there is a bunch of debris flying around orbiting the Earth that sometimes crashes in the other satellites that are in use, destroying them and making even more debris. Scientists in Switzerland have a plan to clean up junk that’s in orbit around Earth.
The plan involves a small satellite that would be placed in orbit and then catch up to the defunct or damaged satellites and capture them. The satellite is dubbed CleanSpace One and will have some sort small arm to reach out and grab the old satellites, and then store them inside itself. The janitorial satellite would then launch itself, and its worthless was cargo back into the atmosphere where it would burn up. This sounds like a good idea, but a better idea would seem to be a satellite that could remain in orbit and simply fling debris or other satellites into the atmosphere without killing itself.
CleanSpace One is a small satellite that reportedly wouldn’t cost that much to put into orbit. The first version will be placed in orbit, and the Swiss will use it to destroy Switzerland’s own Swisscube or its cousin Tlsat. Both of those satellites are 61 cubic inches in size. The team developing the cleanup satellite hopes that eventually they can turn the project into a commercial enterprise with ready-made systems for other customers to use to deorbit satellites when they are no longer needed.
[via Business Insider]