A Japanese experiment designed to test technology for removing space junk and flown on that country’s most recent cargo ship to ISS has failed to deploy its tether as planned.
The system, designed by the Japanese space agency (JAXA) and a fishing net company, should have unfurled a 700-meter (2,300 ft) tether from a space station resupply vehicle that was returning to Earth. According to JAXA scientists, however, the system appears to have faltered.
This only adds another technical failure to a string of technical failures by Japanese spacecraft. And even though the cargo ship operated as planned, its launch was delayed when engineers discovered a leak during testing. Overall, it increasingly appears that Japan’s space program has the same kind of quality control problems as Russia.