Japan's troubled 'space junk' mission fails

February 6, 2017
An artist's impression of the more than 100 million pieces of debris in orbit around the Earth

An experimental Japanese mission to clear 'space junk' or rubbish from the Earth's orbit has ended in failure, officials said Monday, in an embarassment for Tokyo.

Over 100 million pieces of garbage are thought to be whizzing around the planet, including cast-off equipment from old satellites and bits of rocket, which experts say could pose risks for future space exploration.

Scientists at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) were trying to test an electrodynamic 'tether'—created with the help of a company—to slow down the orbiting rubbish and bring it into a lower orbit.

The hope was that the clutter—built up after more than five decades of human space exploration—would eventually enter the Earth's atmosphere and burn up harmlessly before it had a chance to crash into the planet.

The 700-metre (2,300-foot) long tether—made from thin wires of stainless steel and aluminium—was due to be extended out from a cargo ship launched in December carrying supplies for astronauts at the International Space Station.

Problems arose quickly, however, and technicians tried for days to remedy the situation but only had a one-week window to carry out the before the vessel reentered the Earth's atmosphere before dawn on Monday.

"We believe the tether did not get released", leading researcher Koichi Inoue told reporters.

"It is certainly disappointing that we ended the mission without completing one of the main objectives," he said.

The disappointment is the latest failure to hit JAXA and comes just weeks after the agency had to abort a mission that sought to use a mini-rocket to send a satellite into orbit.

The agency also abandoned a pricey ultra-high-tech satellite launched in February last year to search for X-rays emanating from black holes and galaxy clusters after losing contact with the spacecraft.

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FredJose
2.8 / 5 (4) Feb 06, 2017
Hey, at least they tried. Cleaning up garbage can be problematic at times, especially if it's in an inhospitable place like space. Which of course points to the greed motive driving these space ventures - nobody wants to spend ANY money cleaning up their mess. They're only to willing to let the offspring suffer with the results as long as they could have made their billions and pushed on.
JamesG
3.3 / 5 (3) Feb 06, 2017
Failures are part of success. I hope they don't give up. This is a highly needed task. It sounded like they had a good idea.
TheGhostofOtto1923
2.3 / 5 (4) Feb 06, 2017
This can be one of the first tasks of a commercial laser platform, one that will pay for the entire venture. Beyond that it can provide point power for remote facilities, propulsion for deep space probes, communication capabilities, and impactor deflection. And who knows what else.
Which of course points to the greed
Yeah we know fred. Misanthropy is a defining principle of you religionists.
cantdrive85
3.6 / 5 (25) Feb 06, 2017
NASA tried a space tether experiment as well, and it was also a failure. This is the result when the incorrect plasma physics are employed. It is also another bit of evidence to show that any pie in the sky ideas of a space elevator will also end in failure. The electric potential between Earth's surface and near Earth space is dramatically different and such and elevator will only provide a conduit for a discharge to occur. It would be quite the shocking event.
Captain Stumpy
1.7 / 5 (21) Feb 06, 2017
This is the result when the incorrect plasma physics are employed
@nazi sympathizing conspiracist ideation cult member
except you're wrong

and i can prove it: please demonstrate, using the maths and science that is validated through peer reviewed process, to demonstrate where the NASA plasma physics is:
1- wrong
2- caused your proposed "tether mission" to fail

as an extra proving your idiocy: provide a working solution to the NASA "tether mission" using only your eu cult propaganda that can be validated through secondary parties and experimental results

i already know you can't, so just consider yourself served
RealityCheck
4.2 / 5 (20) Feb 13, 2017
Hi cantdrive, Stumpy. :)

I noted your above latest exchange.

@ cantdrive: As you know, I have not always agreed with your arguments, but in this instance you allude to now-well-known scientific facts regarding powerful electric energy discharges/currents occurring/existing between Earth surface and upper atmosphere (Ionosphere) and Earth's Magnetic field extending even further out. So I must agree that a 'space elevator' would be like a mammoth 'lightning rod' stretching between Earth surface 'ground' and ionosphere/mag-field static/dynamics 'electric charge' source (courtesy solar wind/ionizing-radiation). :)

@ Stumpy: If you have any additional info and/or scientific arguments which go against such known science knowledge/potential-discharges etc, please present them. If and/or when you do, could you please try to keep personal/irrelevant insults and commentary out of it. That way we can all see your arguments more clearly, based on science not personalities. Thanks. :)
Captain Stumpy
1.2 / 5 (17) Feb 14, 2017
@idiot sam the pseudoscience posting troll
@ Stumpy: If you have any additional info and/or scientific arguments
1- learn to read
because
2- idiot CD made a blatantly false claim

there is no "incorrect plasma physics"
there is plasma physics, and there is the eu version of plasma physics which, oddly enough, only consists of someone like cd saying that mainstream physicists don't know plasma physics

there is no publication that can be checked or validated, making CD's claims simply trolling stupidity, especially since i've repeatedly posted and demonstrated where he was making and is still making a blatantly false claim, much like your own blatantly false claims her on PO

as such, your post is irrelevant OT and excessive verbiage for the sake of self aggrandizement due to Dunning-Kruger and pseudoscience belief on your part

6,112 posts with no science or validation of your claims and counting
FOAD and ANHERO
thanks

Bart_A
1 / 5 (1) Feb 14, 2017
Sounds like the Japanese had good intentions, but in the past year they've actually added MORE trash to Low Earth orbit.

Best way to avoid the trash for critical missions is to just go higher in orbit.

Whydening Gyre
4.7 / 5 (3) Feb 14, 2017
Sounds like the Japanese had good intentions, but in the past year they've actually added MORE trash to Low Earth orbit.

Didn't deploy correctly. Tether was still attached. Burned up with the returning cargo ship.
Best way to avoid the trash for critical missions is to just go higher in orbit.

THROUGH all the crap in lower orbit, eh...?

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