Space Junk: It’s Not As Bad As It Looks (what?)

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According to NASA, these new images of space junk orbiting Earth make the situation look more dire than it really is.

I suppose that would be like a store manager looking at the shop floor of Toys ‘R’ Us on the day after Thanksgiving rubbing his chin and saying, “You see, I told you it would be quiet.” In actuality, the shop would be rammed full of bargain hunters, and by the looks of things, Earth orbit (from LEO to geostationary altitudes) is rammed full of junk.

But space is big, so although it might look a little grim up there, it’s very unlikely a spaceship will collide with anything. A statement from NASA agrees:

The dots are not to scale, and space is a very big place. Collisions between large objects are fairly rare. The orbit of each piece is well known. If any debris comes into the path of an operating NASA satellite, flight controllers will maneuver the satellite out of harm’s way.

This may be the case, but I would argue that as a space-faring race, us humans have barely dipped our toes in the cosmos yet. It’s going to take a lot more rocket launches and space littering before we can have routine access to space. If it looks like this now, in the first decade of the 21st century, how much junk is going to be up there in 20, 50 or 100 years time when manned space flight is commonplace?

We’re already manoeuvring satellites, shuttles and space stations out of harms way, and occasionally satellites do collide. Unfortunately, I think space junk will be an additional man made hazard for space travel; we’ll just have to deal with it.

But for now, be sure to pack your double-glazed Whipple Shield if you intend to take a trip into low-Earth orbit

Source: Space.com

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7 thoughts on “Space Junk: It’s Not As Bad As It Looks (what?)”

  1. Maybe space junk is not as dangerous as the picture may imply and we are not at a constant and imminent risk of being hit by an old satellite or other debris. However, don't you think that we should try to keep it cleaner??

  2. We haven't launched so many satellites and spaceships to have so much debris and junk!!! I wonder what outer space will end up looking in the next century if we are able to commute from Earth to Mars, or from Earth to Moon almost on a daily basis.

  3. The idea that it's all okay cos 'space is a very big place' is just so primitive and stupid. It's what they used to say about the earth and the oceans before they became completely polluted and messed up…

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