Swiss satellite to tackle space debris

Researchers in Switzerland are developing a new generation of satellites specifically designed to clean up space debris.

According to NASA, the proliferation of debris orbiting the Earth – primarily jettisoned rocket and satellite components – is an increasingly pressing problem for spacecraft, and it can generate huge costs. The £7million CleanSpace One project, currently underway at the Swiss Space Center, aims to tackle this problem with the first ever 'janitor' satellite. Claude Nicollier, astronaut and professor at Swiss Federal Institute for Technology in Lausanne, said: "It has become essential to be aware of the existence of this debris and the risks that are run by its proliferation. "To move beyond mere rhetoric and take immediate action to get this stuff out of orbit, the Swiss Space Center is launching CleanSpace One, a project to build the first prototype in a family of 'de-orbiting' satellites." The Swiss team is currently working towards overcoming issues with trajectory, and how to make the satellite capable of grabbing hold of and stabilising debris at high speeds. The first CleanSpace One satellite is expected to be launched in the next two to three years.