news hardware NASA has finally realized that space debris will prevent us from going back to space…
NASA panics and realizes it’s time to take action to deal with space debris orbiting Earth. A problem that could become dramatic in the long term.
Orbiting space debris is a real problem today
For many years, scientists have worried about the consequences of treating space like one big garbage dump. Most ships sent out of our atmosphere do not desorb (the process of disintegration of objects in the Earth’s atmosphere). Result: we found debris orbiting the Earth at more than 8 km/s. A speed so great that a single bolt of lightning travels eight times faster than a rifle bullet.
To understand the scope of the problem, you need to look at the space wastage estimates. In 2022, we count at least 36,000 pieces of debris larger than 10 cm, including 5,000 inactive satellites. But what is most worrying are the 900,000 pieces of debris larger than 1 cm and the 130 million pieces of debris larger than 1 mm. Even at this size, the damage can be disastrous.
In addition to a real constellation of small satellites that SpaceX deploys with Starlink, devices in low orbit are becoming more numerous. Even to the point of having to do evasion maneuvers from the International Space Station. He is also regularly hit by small debris, dealing regular damage.
The other problem with space debris is the risk of a chain reaction. This was theorized in Kessler Syndrome. The scenario is that one is wasted so much that it starts crashing and causes a dramatic chain reaction. The colliding pieces form smaller pieces that absorb inertia.
The end result is the impossibility of leaving our atmosphere, on pain of being hit by debris that travels at 24 times the speed of sound in air. Therefore, finding a solution now is essential.
NASA launches research, but not missions
The US government group finally decides to react, but gently. Initially, a panel of experts was formed to establish the strategy to be adopted. The titles of each of the three topics show that it is about theory and not about practice. We will have to wait for the results of the teams to know more about NASA’s actions.
Each team has a project to start to establish the most appropriate solution. The objective is also to avoid further polluting the Space with new rubble and set rules.
On the ESA (European Space Agency) side, a mission to capture space objects was launched in 2020. The mission budget is 86 million and the agency turned to a private company, ClearSpace. The first space mission is planned for 2025. This is to collect debris.
The other solution is to deorbit the debris back into our atmosphere to disintegrate it. Specific missions take a long time to start. The problem doesn’t seem as urgent as it really is. Many scientists are concerned in the coming years from the increasing complexity of sending launchers into space.