UK researchers based in Surrey have designed an ingenius new device to clear the multitude of space junk orbiting around Earth. The device, named the CubeSail, will orbit Earth dragging some of the estimated 5,500 tons of man made debris out of space with a large, 25-metre-squared plastic sheet.
This dragging effect is caused as residual air molecules still present in the spacecraft’s low-Earth orbit catch the sheet and pull the object out of the sky much faster than normal. Indeed, this type of technology is currently much sought after too – with rival projects operating in America and China – as recently it was agreed by international space agencies that all obsolete orbiting technology be cleared from space within 25 years.
The project, which is the brainchild of the Surrey Space Centre, is hoped will be able to launch next year and, providing the CubeSail is a success, the team hope that it will be adopted on a larger scale, attaching itself to many larger launches and even docking at space stations when active.