Switzerland's CleanSpace One satellite would clean up space debris by grabbing old satellites orbiting the earth. Photo EPFL.
4 August 2014 aerospace-technology.com
Japan is planning to build a new military space force involving personnel from the Air Self-Defence Force to shield satellites against dangerous debris orbiting Earth.
This latest move comes after both nations agreed to augment their efforts to deploy satellites for debris monitoring and marine surveillance missions during space development cooperation meetings held in Washington this May.
According to Kyodo News, the new Japanese space force will launch in 2019 and will share its information with the US military as part of the joint proposal to reinforce collaboration in space, the so-called 'fourth battlefield'.
In collaboration with the science ministry and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), the unit is expected to use radar and telescope facilities in Okayama Prefecture in the Chugoku region for its observatory operations.
The equipment will be provided by the Defence Ministry, Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, as well as by JAXA.
Several thousands of pieces of debris from abandoned satellites, spent rocket stages and bits of broken spacecraft are revolving around the planet, threatening to collide with active communications and reconnaissance satellites.
As part of the efforts to avoid such collions, the European Space Agency has deployed the first orbital debris test radar, which gives early warnings and assists satellite operators in manoeuvring to avoid debris.
Swiss Space Center scientists at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) are also working on a new $11m CleanSpace One janitor satellite that will clear space debris by grabbing old satellites orbiting the earth.