We all see rocket launches, scientific equipment, and sometimes humans being taken into space. This is good, and it is proof that when humans put their minds into something that they can accomplish great things. Unfortunately, launching things into space leaves a lot behind, often moving around the Earth for months or, in some cases, for many years.
Space junk is a very big problem that is increasing day by day. Rocket components, bits and pieces of old, faux satellites, and even abandoned space stations (looking at you, China) have shut down the area around Earth in greater density than ever before. Now, as a new initiative by the European Space Agency, clearing that garbage is going to be a complex and very, very expensive task.
According to an ESA news, the agency has signed a major contract with a Swiss startup called Clearspace SA. The company has been awarded € 86 million – approximately US $ 102 million to remove a large piece of space junk from Earth’s orbit. The mission, which will be a Clearspace-1, will launch in 2025 and will attempt to bring down the Vespa payload adapter.
The object was part of a rocket launch that sent a satellite into space, and while the satellite-delivered it to its intended destination, the payload adapter is also orbiting the Earth. Now, the ESA wants it to be disposed of. It has been orbiting the Earth since 2013 and, ESA says, is the size of a “small satellite”.