Daniel_Stuckey writes: As we enter the era of private space, in which any old rocket scientist with a bundle of money can start an orbital enterprise, we're going to have to deal with a little problem we've swept under the celestial rug for years: We've turned space into a trash heap. There are at least 21,000 pieces of orbital junk larger than 10 centimeters, with hundreds of thousands more smaller bits and baubles. It's the product of decades of space exploration, whether it's pieces of trash left behind from orbital missions or bits of destroyed junk from failed satellites. Junk begets more junk; Ecuador's lone satellite was rendered inoperable by space debris, and that's only one example in a long line of trash mishaps. That means it's time to clean up. Researchers at EPFL, the Swiss federal technology institute, plans on becoming the world's space garbage collectors with a satellite—naturally called CleanSpace One.
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