LONDON —The UK government on Tuesday, November 17 announced that a British firm will help build the ClearSpace-1 satellite.
Planned for 2025, Clearspace-1a is the first mission aimed at capturing space debris from Earth's orbit.
According to OECD estimates, there are currently more than 160 million pieces of space debris in orbit, most of which are "space junk." These objects come in all shapes and sizes, from spent rocket bodies to a camera and a spatula dropped by an astronaut.
Space junk stems from hundreds of space missions launched since the beginning of the Space Age in 1957.
According to NASA, the debris travels at speeds of up to 18,000 miles per hour, almost seven times faster than a bullet.
This means even the tiniest piece of debris could spell disaster were it to hit the International Space Station.
Swiss startup ClearSpace was chosen by the ESA to lead the mission.
British Science Minister Amanda Solloway said in a Tuesday, Nov.
17 statement posted on the government's website that Elecnor Deimos in the UK will design ClearSpace-1's Attitude and Orbit Control System, which will orientate and position the satellite to help grab space debris.