back to article Japan plans space debris fishing trip

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has a cunning plan to tackle the menace of orbiting space debris - a really big metal net. According to the Telegraph, the agency has hooked up with fishing net manufacturer Nitto Seimo Co to develop a metal mesh which will capture rogue scrap and consign it to incineration in the …


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  1. Ally J
    Black Helicopters


    What's the betting they're secretly hunting for space whales?

    1. hplasm Silver badge

      See if they have a base on the moon...

      To keep the harpoons in.

  2. Barely registers

    And the other 5% are...?

    presumably perfectly functional satellites whose owners wouldn't take kindly to their investment being swept up in a fishing net and discarded?

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Other Options

    Meanwhile NASA has rejected a bid from an Irish led consortium over fears that more than just the scrap may be "recovered".

  4. thecresta

    Litter Bugs!

    2,465 objects over 2kg (and the rest)??!! Are astronauts chucking their trash out of the window or something?

  5. SmallYellowFuzzyDuck, how pweety!

    Title goes here

    Pft, shouldn't this be a job for the bloody unemployed?

    Daily Mail in pocket.

    1. Crazy Operations Guy Silver badge

      Almost all of it from launch vehicles

      Once the launch vehicle gets to its proper obit, the whole payload section will come apart to let the satellite finish it journey, when this happens. The nose cone and the outer payload section are supposed to fall back to earth, burning up in the atmosphere, however there are a lot of times when this doesn't happen, so you end up with metal plates, screws, and parts of the holding assembly floating around in lower orbit.

      1. hplasm Silver badge


        a bag of tools...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          I thought it was some bint's handbag?

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Just one flaw...

    From Article: "of which a dozen could in seven years capture all 2,465 identified objects over 2 kilograms currently floating in low Earth orbit."

    All 2465 objects includes 95% debris and 5% operational satelites...

    So this is going to collect all the satelites too? if not how does it tell the difference and pass them by, or do you have to move all the sats as the net comes sweeping past?

  7. Andrew Moore Silver badge


    Any chance that Chinese spy sats lie in that orbital plane???

  8. Henry 2

    ElectroDynamic Debris Eliminator

    Are any other backronym fans thinking that it should be the "...Incinerator and Eliminator"?

  9. Matthew 3

    Leave Prospero alone!

    Make sure they know that although it might not do much it's still there and still transmitting (137.560 MHz?).

    I believe it's the only satellite that has the distinction of being British-launched.

  10. David Kelly 2

    Drinking their own Kool-Aid?

    It would appear Japanese boffins are watching their own home-grown anime:

    Never mind that same anime series is also popular at NASA.

  11. BristolBachelor Gold badge

    couple of problems

    1. The problem with orbital debris is the damage it does because of how fast it is travelling compared to the object it hits (think of something travelling north-south at ~26,170 mph and somthing travelling east-west at the same speed). So what happens to this net when it is hit by something at that speed?

    2. The other problem with orbital debris is that it hits things that we want to stay up (satellites, space stations, shuttles, etc.). So what stops this kilometer sized piece of orbital debris doing the same? (OK I know the answer is to change the orbit of your sat, but that uses fuel, reducing it's life, and meaning that all the measurements it takes afterwards for a while are no good).

    However, I'm generally OK with someone doing something to sort it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      I really hope those Japanese boffins think of those two points....or perhaps, just perhaps, they already have done, since if a bunch of RegTards could think of them within 5 minutes, perhaps the Japanese experts already have done. Would that be why they are called boffins, and we are RegTards?

    2. Neoc
      Thumb Up


      Beat me to it!

  12. Anonymous Coward

    Science catches up to science fiction


    Does somebody in Japan's space program read manga?

    1. Yag

      According to the number of manga published in Japan...

      The question should be :

      "Does somebody in Japan never read any manga?"

  13. Elmer Phud

    Official approval

    Have they checked it's O.K. with the Scientologists?

    Wouldn't want to upset the Thetans, would we.

    1. Ammaross Danan


      Scientologists should be the ones recruited to do this anyway. After all, they have the Space Org, right?

  14. Lord Lien

    Is this story 1 month too early?

    Its Feb the 1st not April.

    1. Brutus


      wouldn't that be TWO months early? Otherwise I'll be pissed off at missing my birthday beers!

  15. Filippo

    other satellites

    Catching other satellites would probably be a problem, and I can't see any way to avoid it short of making all active satellites dodge the net. That uses up fuel, reducing the satellite's useful life.

    However, being hit by space debris also reduces the satellite's useful life. At *some* point, the cost of accidents will become greater than the cost of moving active satellites. There will be arguing, but the problem will just grow until everyone agrees it needs fixing. When that happens, it would be nice to have the space sweeper ready for action.

  16. WonkoTheSane

    Prior Art?

    1. Graham Marsden


  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fit the net on a spacecraft...

    ... and you could pick up all kinds of stuff for salvage. Maybe fly close to the sun for refuelling.

    Mine's the Elite one by the parked by the Cobra Mk III

  18. Fr. Ted Crilly


    Bagsey Ed White's glove.

  19. Anonymous Coward

    Back of the net . . .

    I'm clearly not understanding this properly. When a football hits the back of the net, the fast moving ball pulls the net in the direction of travel. The net is handily anchored to the ground and posts, and thus does not turn into a long thin sausage with a ball at one end, zooming away from the back of the goal. If a giant space net gets hit at a gazillion miles per hour by, say, an astronauts toolbox, isn't that what'll happen?

    1. John.Doe

      Not at all

      True, you'll get a flying sausage for a while, but once the velocity of the net equalizes with the toolbox, it'll straighten out again. No air resistance to keep the net folded back, and no force to deform it.

  20. Alan Brown Silver badge

    What about the sub 2kg stuff?

    There's a space shuttle window sitting somewhere at NASA with a 5mm gouge out of it.

    It was hit by a fleck of paint.

  21. Mike Flugennock

    It smashed my baby's head

  22. Oldfogey

    Got it backwards!

    1. Most debris moves in the same direction - so orbit the catcher in the same direction, just a little faster or slower (alternately) so th impact is normally failry slow.

    2. The net is metallic, and charged so that most debris will tend to stick.

    3. The catcher has a limited life before it has too much junk to operate and is re-entered to burn up. Thus it can afford to carry a good fuel supply, and IT dodges the Satellites, not vice-versa.

    4. It could perhaps carry more than one net - when one is overloaded, or developed too many holes, dump it into burn up and carry on with the next net.

    5. Before going to burn-up, could it link up with the ISS, so they can recover anything valuable first?

    Don't let the aliens nick our historic artifacts.

  23. Winkypop Silver badge


    Better factor space-nets in for the next launch lads....

  24. Ken 16 Silver badge

    Launch from a dormant volcano?


    I'll get my coat - it's got an autogyro in the pocket

  25. GilbertFilbert

    Re: I thought it was some bint's handbag?

    If it was, it would be big enough to be visible from Earth.

  26. Anonymous Coward

    They must be joking, ....

    ... but I'm not getting it.

    I mean, um, if the Japanese build these "Tholian Webs" aren't they likely to ensnare the same spacecraft / satellites / etc. they claim to want to protect?

    This is kind of like the US/UK intelligence apparatus "making the world safe for democracy", no?

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