CleanSpace One: Vacs in Space

Smells from your dog, and the cosmos too…

Earth from space, surrounded by small white dots. A job for CleanSpace One?
The extent of space debris around Earth. A job for CleanSpace One? It’ll need several cleans and a bit of Shake ‘n’ Vac.

We at Cleanhire have a wealth of industrial vacuum cleaners for hire, from those suitable for small spaces to those big enough for mainline stations. At present our vacuum cleaners are strictly Earth based, though this could change by the end of this decade. Soon to reach the skies could be cosmic vacuum cleaners. CleanSpace One, invented by researchers at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland, could clean our skies.

Well, CleanSpace One from Switzerland is here…

CleanSpace One’s first job will be the safe disposal of SwissCube, a small cubic satellite in low orbit. Instead of using a long pipe and brush attachment (like a bog-standard cylindrical vacuum cleaner), CleanSpace One sucks the space debris into its mouth. The way it devours space junk is similar to 1980s video gaming character Pac-Man.

Its throat expands to the widest possible point before it sucks up debris. This is eaten by CleanSpace One, in the same way a compactor scoffs rotten food. Whereas a vacuum cleaner could pick anything up spontaneously, CleanSpace One would need the exact measurements and velocity of the items before rounding it up at the right time.

Space junk is a serious problem. There is 21,000 known items, greater than 10 centimetres across floating around Earth alone. CleanSpace One’s ‘power pills’ will be the flotsam and jetsam of previous missions, and long-expired satellites. Hopefully this may be the first of many devices.

How long will it be before surface based vacuum cleaners appear on future space missions? Who knows, we could be hiring cosmic vacuum cleaners a decade from now and the European Space Agency could be giving us a call.

Clean Hire, 07 December 2015.

Debris-GEO1280” – NASA Orbital Debris Program Office, photo gallery. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.