We have put thousands of objects in space at risk since the first satellite of humankind has been launched in 1957. Astronomers have found that with around 3000 satellites, there are around 900000 pieces of space junks flying in space, which are larger than 10 centimeters. They have said that outcome will be devastating if a tiny piece of space junk collides with a spacecraft with the crew. It will create an inconvenient situation if it bumps into a satellite. This is something, experts have been trying to avoid. Cleaning up space junks is a massive task; however, the European Space Agency (ESA) has come up with a solution. The agency has funded a giant space claw, which might be able to clean space debris. The majority of launch operators avoid going on a mission to evade cluttering up space around the earth. However, outdated satellites, booster engines, and small bits of machinery can stay in space long after their useful tenure. Some objects fall back to the earth on their own as their orbit crumbles. However, experts have said that a good volume of space junk is still moving in the wrong direction, which can be catastrophic.
Experts have said that space is going to be flooded with mega constellations from SpaceX and others. The ESA has signed an 86 million Euro contract with Switzerland based firm ClearSpace SA to launch the first-ever active space debris removal operation. The space agency has pledged to provide funding and expertise and ClearSpace SA will be doing engineering and design work for this initiative. The agency will seek extra investments from commercial investors as well for this mission. The ESA is targeting Vega Secondary Payload Adapter (Vespa) which has been left in a 400 miles high orbit while launching a Vega rocket in 2013. The team of the agency has selected this orbit as experts are well acquainted with the orbit and its compositions. This orbit is a size of a small satellite, as per the experts.
This mission called ClearSpace-1 will be launched in 2015. It is a claw-shaped spacecraft, which will be assigned to Vespa junks; it will lock on to it with the help of its grapplers. It will simply drag the junks to the atmosphere where it will burn up along with Vespa debris. Experts have said that they need many of these devices to clean space junks. If this test works well, the company can design more efficient claw-shaped devices for clearing orbital traffic jam. However, experts have said that time will tell whether the approach of ClearSpace is viable to clean space junks.