There’s a lot of junk floating around out there in space. As of 2013, in fact, more than half a million bits of space junk was being tracked by space agencies around the world.
What is the world doing about all that trash? Internationally? Nothing, yet. Japan has a plan, though, and it involves a giant tether.
The Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has announced its plans for a spacecraft that’s equipped with technology capable of dealing with some of the space debris. This craft will launch into space, extend a half-mile-long tether, grab space debris and drag it down into the earth’s atmosphere where it will be incinerated. The spacecraft, too, will burn up in the process.
You can see this in action in the video from KAXA below. It looks like their calling the craft “KITE.”
When will Japan take to space on a cleaning run? Current estimates suggest this will happen as early as the mid-2020s.