Swiss scientists plan to launch a “janitor satellite” specifically designed to get rid of space junk.
The $11 million satellite called CleanSpace One —- the prototype for a family of such satellites —- is being built by the Swiss Space Center at the Swiss Federal Institute for Technology in Lausanne, or EPFL.
Within three to five years is the predicted launch of CleanSpace One and its first tasks will be to grab two Swiss satellites that were launched in 2009 and 2010, EPFL said.
The U.S. space agency NASA says over 500,000 pieces of spent rocket stages, broken satellites and other debris are orbiting Earth. The debris travels at speeds approaching 17,500 miles per hour (28,000 kilometers per hour), fast enough to destroy or inflict expensive and time-draining damage on a satellite or spacecraft. Collisions, in turn, generate more fragments floating in space.
Exactly how much debris is out there, they can only guesstimate. However, before some satellite that is out of date and out of its original orbit collides with something or somebody, it is way past due governments started looking at a way to clean up their junk.