Japan's big plan to clear up space junk

Last updated at 15:30
KounotoriJapan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)
The cable will be able to be moved using the electric current running down the cable, meaning it can sweep up debris in space

Space. A vast area filled with speeding comets, planets and well, a LOT of junk.

The junk includes things like old satellites, gloves, and toolkits accidentally dropped by astronauts.

But Japan could have a plan to whip the junk into shape, or out of the way, at least.

They think Kounotori, the Japanese space ship with a 'tail' could be the answer.

Space debris could cause crashes in spaceScience Photo Library

The tail, which is longer than six football fields, will be stored in the cargo ship and released when the ship gets to space.

The cable will then 'sweep' at space junk, slowing it down and redirecting it towards earth where it will burn up on re-entry.

The automated cargo ship - called Stork or Kounotori in JapaneseAFP
It might look someone's got carried away with the tin foil but this is Kounotori

The tail could also be used to grab large pieces of junk to pull them to earth.

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) says it hopes to put the junk collection system into more regular use by the middle of the next decade.

They said: "If we are successful in this trial, the next step will be another test attaching one tip of the tether to a targeted object,"