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Tossed net captures space junk in orbit-cleanup experiment

The Associated Press
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In this September 2018 image made from video provided by the University of Surrey, a net is launched from the International Space Station to catch a test object. The experiment was conducted to research ways to clean up debris in orbit around the Earth. (University of Surrey via AP)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — A tossed net has managed to capture space junk in a demonstration of ways to clean up orbit.

In the British-led experiment , a big net was cast from a mini satellite Sunday. The net successfully wrapped around its target, an inflated structure that had just been deployed as part of the test. The distance covered nearly 20 feet (6 meters). A harpoon will be tested in a similar manner next year.

The University of Surrey’s Guglielmo Aglietti said Thursday the target was spinning faster than expected. But he says that made the test even more realistic. The objective is to show ways of removing debris from orbit, which is cluttered with old rocket and spacecraft parts.

The experiment was deployed into orbit in June from the International Space Station.

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