February 16, 2012
The tidy Swiss want to clean up space. Scientists from the Alpine nation said yesterday they plan to launch a “janitor satellite” designed to get rid of orbiting debris known as space junk.
The 10m Swiss franc (¬£7m) satellite called CleanSpace One is being built by the Swiss Space Centre at the Swiss Federal Institute for Technology in Lausanne. Its launch is expected within five years and its first tasks are to grab two Swiss satellites launched in 2009 and 2010.
Nasa, the US space agency, says more than 500,000 pieces of spent rocket stages, broken satellites and other debris are being tracked as they orbit Earth. The debris travels at up to 17,500mph.