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Can a Harpoon and Net Solve the Space Junk Problem?

With an estimated 100 million pieces of debris orbiting the earth it’s clear: Space has a junk problem. We visit the U.K.’s Surrey Space Centre for a behind-the-scenes look at a new device that it hopes is a cost-effective solution.


By

Dipti Kapadia

Space has a junk problem. Roughly 100 million pieces of debris larger than a millimeter are orbiting the Earth -- ranging from defunct satellites to astronauts’ gloves. The junk poses a threat to working satellites which are used for things like navigation in cars and beaming television signals.

Now a mission led by the U.K.’s Surrey Space Centre and its partners aims to clean it up with a unique new method using a high-tech harpoon and net. In the video above, we visit the RemoveDebris mission for a behind-the-scenes look at how it works and what the group hopes to accomplish.

The Surrey Space Centre has shipped a RemoveDebris device to NASA in the U.S. with the aim of sending it to the International Space Station in March.

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Write to Dipti Kapadia at dipti.kapadia@wsj.com

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