Space clean-up mission is complicated as junk is smashed by more junk

The European Space Agency's experimental mission to remove a large piece of space junk was interrupted by another piece of space junk smashing their target. Named Clearspace-1, the EU's flying grabber arm is intended to remove large problematic chonks of space debris. Sadly, the density of junk seems to be causing problems, but the mission may still be on.

Space should be happy, it seems like the minute humanity discovers a new place, we start dumping trash or filling it with disease. Near earth orbit is probably a just junkyard because we didn't find anything to kill.

The plan was for a four-armed craft, which looks a bit like the grabber in an arcade's claw machine, to approach the adapter, carefully close itself around the debris, and then fly down to Earth with its payload in tow.

But fate decided to throw a curveball.

It now appears that another random piece of space junk has hit the adapter, creating even more space junk — as well as junking the ESA's goal to remove the 250 pound VESPA in one piece. It's terrible luck, but also a perfect illustration of the perils of our detritis-filled orbit.