Japan's new "fishing net" space junk collector has failed, and space agency Jaxa must now race against time to secure its repair.
The Kounotori 6 spacecraft, which is unmanned, left the International Space Station over the weekend. It is equipped with a 700-metre electrodynamic tether which has been likened to a net and is designed to clean up the rubbish orbiting earth, using magnetic force to slow the junk down and force its decay.
Space junk from previous missions creates a dangerous hazard for those at the International Space Station, future space missions and for satellites. In fact Nasa reports that millions of pieces of space debris are currently orbiting the earth, travelling at speeds of up to 17,500 mph.
On Tuesday the craft was supposed to start its first cleaning trial, Digital Trends reported. However the tether, made from stainless steel and aluminium, failed to open properly.
Repairing the net will be a fiendishly difficult task. Sill, at least the Jaxa engineers will be fully focused - after all they only have until the weekend to fix the technology, as the spacecraft is then set to re-enter the earth’s atmosphere, where it will disintegrate.