Space is littered with stages of launch vehicles when separated out, dead satellites, waste from astronaut’s suit, waste from International space station, equipment slipped by astronauts, growing occupants- CubeSats, the residue of rockets etc.
In 1983, space shuttle Challenger’s windshield was cracked by a piece of space wreck. Moreover, more than 500,000 space debris dispersed pieces orbiting the earth at 17,500 miles per hour. A tiny screw travelling at a speed of 17,500 miles per hour can evoke a catastrophic failure of any active satellite or rocket i.e if velocity is doubled then kinetic energy increases four times. The dangerously congested population of space thrash varies in sizes from 1 mm to 1 cm diameter objects are 106 million, 1cm to 10 cm diameter objects are 750,000, more than 10 cm diameter objects are 29000. The average distance between two wreckage is 190 km.
In 1978, Donal J. Kessler proposed ‘The Kessler syndrome’. The sprouting amount of space junk has an impact potential of rising higher risk of collisions in lower earth orbit. It is absurd to get telecommunication and metrological satellites orbiting geosynchronous path back on earth. Therefore, full stop on space explorations. No manned missions, no weather forecasting, no communication systems, no internet services, no global positioning system, no more research probe etc.
Accidental collisions occurred:-
- July 24, 1996, French microsatellite CERISE hit ORIANE rocket.
- February 10, 2009, Russia’s dead military communication satellite COSMOS 2251 collided with IRIDIUM 33.
- January 11, 2007, the Chinese military launched an anti-satellite missile which completely demolished FENG YUN 1C, old weather satellite into more than 4000 remnants.
- In 2014, International Space Station was relocated thrice due to the threat of contingent smashing with space debris.
Interagency Space Debris coordination committee, working on multiple projects
- Remote control robot Justin for spacewalk and exoskeleton suit.
- Space fence with optical sensors to keep an eye on 10 cm diameter objects.
- Electromagnetic net capturing debris, dragging them back to earth’s atmosphere and gradually obliterates due to friction.
- Ejecting laser beams to targeted debris.