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Japanese experiment proves that cleaning up space junk is hard

08 February 2017

A Japanese experimental space clean-up mission, supposed to help improve sanitation techniques in the vicinity of the Blue Planet, has failed, officials said Monday.

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.

The space cargo ship left the ISS on January 28 and re-entered the atmosphere on Monday, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency has confirmed.

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.

There are still more than 100 million pieces of waste revolving around the planet.

An experimental Japanese mission to remove risky debris from orbit has ended in failure.

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While this test failed, it is likely that JAXA, and other space agencies, will continue to test different methods of removing space junk from orbit. Problems arose quickly and JAXA suspect that the tether was unable to be deployed.

JAXA's device was an electrodynamic tether made from thin wires of stainless steel and aluminium.

The experiment traveled to space aboard Japan's uncrewed Kounotori 6 HTV spacecraft, which also delivered thousands of pounds of supplies including food, water and hardware to the International Space Station when it docked in mid-December. "It is, of course, disappointing that we have completed the mission without achieving one of its main objectives", he said.

A Japanese spacecraft immolated according to plan while re-entering Earth's atmosphere Sunday.

"NASA needs to determine the best path forward for tackling the multifaceted problems caused by meteoroids and orbital debris that put human and robotic space operations at risk", Kessler added.

Japanese experiment proves that cleaning up space junk is hard