Japan’s Space Junk Collection Mission Ends In Failure

Posted: Feb 6 2017, 11:16pm CST | by , Updated: Feb 6 2017, 11:22pm CST, in News | Latest Science News

 

Japan’s Space Junk Collection Mission Ends in Failure
Credit: NASA
 

Japanese space junk collector fails to remove debris from space. Cargo ship reenters the Earth containing nothing

Japan’s experimental mission to remove trash from orbit around the Earth has failed miserably. The cargo spacecraft which was supposed to return with space junk reentered the Earth’s atmosphere on Sunday (Feb.7) unloaded and burned up harmlessly over the Pacific Ocean.

“It is certainly disappointing that we ended the mission without completing one of the main objectives.” Koichi Inoue, a researcher at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said in a statement

JAXA was experimenting with an electrodynamic tether to pull junk out of Earth’s orbit and to clear up tons of garbage whizzing around the planet.

About 700 meters in length, the tether was made from thin wires of stainless steel and aluminium and was launched to the space on December 9. 

The cargo spacecraft named Kounotori Kounotori 6 or HTV-6 was loaded with more than 4.5 tons of supplies, water, spare parts and experiment hardware for astronauts aboard ISS and arrived at the space station in mid December. It spent it next 45 days docked at the station's Harmony module. 

The junk collection experiment was scheduled to perform last week, when the tether was due to extend out from cargo spacecraft and had then plucked some of the debris revolving the Earth. The debris would have burned up in the atmosphere when dragged lower into the orbit.

Earlier, Japanese space agency reported that space junk collector is encountering some problem and has not been successfully deployed. JAXA continued trying to remedy the situation before the cargo spacecraft reenters the Earth’s atmosphere, but failed to do so.

“We could not extend the cable, but we think it is not because of the cable itself, but some other reasons,” JAXA spokesperson told New Scientist. “A detailed analysis is underway.”

More than 50,000 pieces of debris are currently whirling around our planet, including fragments of nonfunctional spacecrafts and abandoned satellites. This debris is posing a threat to future space missions especially to those with humans aboard.

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.

 

 

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