Great things have been achieved in 55 years of space exploration. But accompanying those achievements are a half-million pieces of space litter in orbit around the Earth.

Leave it to the Swiss to come up with a plan to clean it up — and to make a profit by doing so.

Recently, the Swiss Space Center announced plans to launch an $11 million satellite called CleanSpace One to capture and “de-orbit” space debris, including satellites, rocket stages and assorted other litter.

The idea is to capture the debris and direct it back to Earth where it would burn up in the atmosphere on its way down.

Doing so would greatly reduce problems for the practical use of that increasingly crowded area around the Earth. The space junk can collide with functioning satellites and quickly turn them into more litter, and more problems.

There are technical problems to overcome, but a launch is anticipated in five years, according to The Associated Press.

The first goal of the Swiss project?

Cleaning up after itself, by eliminating two Swiss satellites launched in 2009 and 2010. Eventually, the Swiss hope to market the janitorial service in space.

Who says that nature abhors a vacuum?

— The Post and Courier, Charleston, S.C., Feb. 21

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