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Space & Astronomy

Japan's space junk tether fails to deploy

By T.K. Randall
February 6, 2017 · Comment icon 8 comments

Our planet is surrounded by large amounts of space junk. Image Credit: NASA
The experimental tether had been designed to help solve the problem of space junk in Earth's orbit.
Satellites and spacecraft are already running a daily gauntlet of spent rocket stages, screws, bolts and other objects that currently encircle our world. As time goes on the problem will reach the point at which it will be too risky to send anything else up in to space due to the risk of a collision.

Now in a renewed bid to solve the problem, scientists in Japan have been working on deploying an electrodynamic tether in space. Measuring 700 meters long and made from thin wires of stainless steel and aluminium, the tether was due to be deployed from a cargo ship traveling to the ISS.
If successful, it would have helped to reduce the amount of debris by slowing down some of the pieces and bringing them in to a lower orbit where they would have eventually burned up in the planet's atmosphere.

Sadly though, despite a concerted effort by technicians, the device failed the deploy correctly.

"We believe the tether did not get released," said lead researcher Koichi Inoue. "It is certainly disappointing that we ended the mission without completing one of the main objectives."

Source: The Guardian | Comments (8)




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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by taniwha 7 years ago
Oh dear, one more piece of junk to dodge  
Comment icon #2 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 7 years ago
Not at all. The tether isn't space junk because it didn't deploy, and even if it had it would have remained attached to the HTV (which is the entire point of a tether). The HTV isn't space junk as it was deliberately re-entered (as have all previous HTV craft) once it's mission was completed. 
Comment icon #3 Posted by Grandpa Greenman 7 years ago
Bummer, we really do need to clean up that mess for the safety of our astronauts.   
Comment icon #4 Posted by khol 7 years ago
Kudos to Japan for stepping up and trying to tackle this problem.It will just get  worse if left unattended. Humans leave a trail of muck everywhere they go  
Comment icon #5 Posted by geraldnewfie 7 years ago
more junk, least spacex got smart and is using renewable rockets, maybe get them to design the junk grabber
Comment icon #6 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 7 years ago
Nope, please read my earlier post. Except they only recover the first stage, which doesn't enter orbit anyway.The second stage, which does enter orbit, isn't recoverable. In other words SpaceX recoverable technology does exactly zero to help alleviate the space junk problem. Then we can watch it explode on the pad when they try and fuel it.  
Comment icon #7 Posted by geraldnewfie 7 years ago
guess you didnt watch newest flight they did, landed perfect with no explosion  
Comment icon #8 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 7 years ago
Two successes in a row is nothing to shout about when Ariane 5 has just had it's 77th consecutive success and ULA have never had a failure since they formed in 2006.


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