Swiss ‘Janitor Satellites’ to Remove Space Junk
The tidy Swiss want to clean up space. Swiss scientists plan to launch a “janitor satellite” — a 10-million-franc ($11-million) satellite called CleanSpace One — specially designed to get rid of space junk, the orbiting debris that can do serious and costly damage to valuable satellites or even manned space ships.
Its launch would come within three to five years and its first tasks will be to grab two Swiss satellites that were launched in 2009 and 2010 but will be phased out of use, 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.