Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
  Space Industry and Business News  

Subscribe free to our newsletters via your

Space Debris' Enviromental Impact

Launch Space Public course offerings for 2011
Registrations Opening Soon

(1) Launch Vehicle Payload Integration
March 8-10, Cocoa Beach, FL $1,395

(2) Launch Vehicle and Spacecraft Acoustic Testing and Analysis
March 23-25, Cocoa Beach, FL $1,395

(3) Space Vehicle Mechanisms
April 4-6, Cocoa Beach, FL $1,395

(4) Launch Vehicle Systems Design and Engineering
May 16-18, Cocoa Beach, FL $1,395

by Launchspace Staff
Bethesda MD (SPX) Oct 15, 2010
For the past 50+ years space-faring nations of the world have been trashing the near-Earth space without regard to future effects on our environment. Almost every satellite launched into Earth orbit has resulted in multiple objects that have become RSOs (resident space objects), otherwise known as space debris.

During the first 40 or so years of accumulating this debris, it was little more than a passing thought and at most an irritant, certainly not seriously considered as a future threat to space commerce and applications. In 2007, China tested an anti-satellite weapon on one of its own expired weather satellites in a polar orbit at an altitude of 865 km.

The test was reported to be a success and the resulting debris immediately increased the number of tracked RSOs by 25%. In 2009, and expired Russian Cosmos spacecraft and an active Iridium satellite collided at an altitude of roughly 800 km, and the result was several hundred new RSOs.

Current estimates place the total number of trackable RSOs at about 22,500 with most of these in an altitude band of approximately 700 km to 1200 km. In addition, there are thought to be millions of debris objects that are too small to track. While it is true that operational spacecraft in this altitude band are at risk of colliding with debris, space is still "big" and collision probabilities are still low.

However, the continued growth of debris appears unstoppable. It took just over 50 years before the first satellite-to-satellite encounter took place. The next one will surely occur in much less than that time. Concern regarding space debris is definitely moving from irritant to concern to a call for action.

For several reasons, action is unlikely to occur anytime soon. The technology for removing RSOs does not exist. Although there are many suggestions, none are practical at this time. The economics of debris removal are simply overwhelming. Culturing and political issues may prove to be the most difficult to overcome. It seems entirely possible that access to space may be denied at some point in the future.

All developed nations already heavily depend on space to provide vast economic advantages that did not exist just 30 years ago. A loss of space applications could set the world back several decades in terms of communications, weather forecasting, scientific exploration, precision navigation and Earth observations.

Is there any good news? One could say that space debris is a growth industry, but there seems to be no customers who will pay for cleaning it up. The big question at the moment is: What are the long-term effects of space debris on access to space and on the Earth's environment. These topics will be discussed in Launchspace's new course addition: Space Debris and the Future of Space Flight in the spring of 2011.

Share This Article With Planet Earth DiggDigg RedditReddit
YahooMyWebYahooMyWeb GoogleGoogle FacebookFacebook

Related Links
Space Technology News - Applications and Research

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

Sorting The Space Trash
Sydney, Australia (SPX) Sep 24, 2010
We all sort our rubbish by category, allowing recycling to take place. It's easy to understand why. Different items require different processes for disposal. For years, we have been growing increasingly aware of the trash problem in low Earth orbit. Debris from whole satellites to tiny flecks of paint poses a hazard to anything we launch. It can damage spacecraft or even claim lives. With ... read more

Space Debris' Enviromental Impact

Polymer Behaviors Below The 1 Nanometer Level

Historic computer replica proposed

India seeks 'cool jacket' design to help hot labourers

Indian army in communication system tender

Military Terrestrial Satcom Market To Grow Slightly

MEADS Demonstrates Interoperability With NATO

Space security surveillance gets new boost

ILS Proton Successfully Launches XM-5 Satellite

Ariane Moves Into Final Phase Of Globalstar Soyuz 2 Launch Campaign

Arianespace Hosts Meeting Of Launch System Manufacturers

Political Obstacles For Sea Launch Overcome

NKorea Jamming Device A New Security Threat

KORE Telematics Introduces Location-Based Service Offering

Trimble Releases Next Gen Of TerraSync GPS Data Collection Software

EU's Galileo satnav system over budget, late: report

Boeing Projects 90 Billion Dollar Commercial Airplanes Market In Russia And CIS

War games pits Eurofighter against Su-30

Goal set for capping emissions from international aviation

Israel buys F-35 jets with eyes on Iran

Intel posts three billion dollar quarterly net profit

Motorola sues Apple for patent infringement

Intel to spend 2.7 billion dollars on Israel plant upgrade

Optical Chip Enables New Approach To Quantum Computing

SymetriGEO Supports UK-Led Common Geospatial Tool Set Project

10th Anniversary Of The International Charter Space And Major Disasters

A New Pair Of Glasses To View Earth

Satellites join up to map Earth

Can Hungary's Red Sludge Be Made Less Toxic With Carbon

Hungary to maintain state of emergency after toxic spill

Hungarian cabinet members visit toxic spill site

EU awaits Hungary clean-up before reviewing toxic waste laws

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2010 - SpaceDaily. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement