One of the biggest modern threats to spaceflight - apart from politics - is space junk. For each satellite, rocket, capsule, space station, missile, booster, observatory, dog or monkey we put into space, we litter Earth orbit with 5 percent more junk every year.
So it seems we are doomed to failure. There's currently an estimated 5,500 tons of debris up there, and it's getting worse. The more active we become in space, the more junk we shed, and it is a hyper-velocity hazard, putting future astronauts and our multi-billion dollar satellite industry at risk.
What's more, space debris can interrupt satellite communications, possibly even satellite TV signals - we can't be having that!
Fortunately, various agencies around the world have accurate means of tracking the larger bits of debris, providing some kind of warning should a speeding bit of shrapnel get too close to our orbital real estate. We might not be able to do anything (yet) about the smaller stuff, but UK scientists have come up with a novel idea about how to remove the larger stuff from orbit.