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Russia to Develop Space Debris Removal System

RIA Novosti

21:14 12/09/2012

MOSCOW, September 12 (RIA Novosti) - Russia’s space agency Roscosmos is planning to develop a system to remove hazardous debris from orbit, the agency’s Deputy Chief Sergei Savelyev said on Wednesday.

Since the scope of space activities is steadily increasing, space debris will eventually pose a serious problem for any spacecraft, including the International Space Station (ISS), operating in near-Earth orbit.

“Roscosmos has decided to develop a system capable of removing large-size space debris from the critical areas of near-Earth orbit, and to set up an automated system to warn about potentially hazardous situations in space around the Earth,” Savelyev said at a science conference held as part of the ILA Berlin Air Show 2012.

“Due to the global nature of the [space debris] problem, Roscosmos is ready to cooperate with European agencies on both projects,” the official said.

U.S. Air Force Space Command is tracking around 22,000 pieces of man-made space debris, mostly “chunks” over ten centimeters in length, and there are supposedly hundreds of thousands of smaller bits.

According to scientists, anything larger than a baseball poses a potentially deadly threat to the ISS.

In March, a piece of “space junk” barely missed the ISS, forcing its crew members to take refuge in the rescue craft.

Similar incidents occurred in 2009 and 2011.

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