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Tokyo (UPI) Feb 2, 2011
Japan's space agency says it is teaming up with a maker of fishing nets to create a "space net" for safely collecting orbiting space debris.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and the Nitto Seimo Co. propose launching a satellite, attached to a thin metal net spanning more than a mile, into space before the net is detached and begins to capture space waste while orbiting earth, Britain's Daily Telegraph reported Tuesday.
As it collects debris the net would become electrically charged and be attracted back to earth by the planet's magnetic field, causing the net and its contents to safely burn up in the atmosphere.
As many as 10 million pieces of "space junk" are estimated to be orbiting Earth at any one time and are a cause for concern because of the potential for collisions with satellites and shuttles.
Nitto Seimo, which became famous for inventing the world's first machine to make strong knotless fishing nets in 1925, says it has been researching super-strong space nets for six years.
The space net would consist of three layered metal threads, each measuring 1mm diameter (0.03 inch) and intertwined with fibers as thin as human hair.
Nitto Seimo says its goal is to have the system developed with two years.
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