Japan's experimental mission to clean up space junk ends in failure

Japan's experimental mission to clean up space junk ends in failure

Japan's experimental mission to clean up space junk ends in failure

The wire was supposed to be released from it to help clear space junk but it was not used.

The Kounotori Integrated Tether Experiment (KITE) flunked its first orbital test when a glitch prevented it from properly deploying a 2,300 foot-long electrodynamic tether made to grab pieces of space junk, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) reported January 31.

According to commentators, the need for an effective space-based garbage removal system is starting to get pressing, making this failure a setback for JAXA, as well as the global community. Over 100 million pieces of junk have been left in orbit since we started exploring space about 60 years ago. The effort was meant to neutralize space debris from cast-off equipment from old satellites and pieces of rocket. It's a frustrating setback given the mounting risks posed by the almost two million bits of junk now swirling around our planet.

Japan's experiment to try to clean up space has ended in failure. Alas, the tether didn't deploy, and engineers couldn't quite figure out why in the limited time they had to perform the experiment.

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The Kounotori Integrated Tether Experiment (KITE) was to test the deployment of a long electrodynamic tether extending out into space.

A cloud of space junk threatens satellites and future spaceflight.

Shipped last December, an International Space Station (ISS) refueling vessel was equipped with a 700 meter lanyard that was to be deployed during the completion of the tanker's mission to carry out a test. JAXA continued trying to remedy the situation before the cargo spacecraft reenter the Earth's atmosphere, but failed to do so.

"It is certainly disappointing that we ended the mission without completing one of the main objectives", leading researcher Koichi Inoue said. Given the risks involved - and the ever-increasing amounts of debris appearing in space - we have little choice but to come up with a viable solution.

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