On Friday, December 9, 2016, Japan launched a supply cargo ship for the six-member ISS crew. But that’s not all since a device intended to clean space of its space debris is attached to the ship.
It was at 2:26 p.m. French time on Friday, December 9, 2016, that the Kounotori 6 (HTV6) cargo vessel took off from the Japanese base of Tanegashima. This is intended to supply the six members of the crew of the International Space Station with approximately four and a half tons of equipment, in particular drinking water, batteries and even scientific equipment. The cargo ship should arrive at the ISS in four days, but refueling is not the only objective of this mission.
Indeed, the Kounotori 6 cargo ship carries with it a space debris cleaning machine. Thus, the members of Jaxa (the Japanese space agency) will test a technique aimed at moving space debris generated by humans so that they approach the Earth and plunge into the atmosphere to be consumed there. . It must be said that space debris has become problematic: its accumulation causes hundreds of collisions each year with, among other things, satellites which are also increasingly numerous.
This device is in the form of a so-called electrodynamic cable made up of steel and aluminum filaments and which is attached to the ship. As the scientists explain, the electricity generated by this lanyard as it swings in the Earth’s magnetic field » should have the effect of slowing the course of the waste, making it gradually descend, until it ends up entering the atmosphere and burning without reaching the earth’s surface « . This electrodynamic cable required ten years of development and is the result of the collaboration of the Japanese space agency and the company Nitto Seimo, a manufacturer of fishing nets.