The future of spaceflight is in jeopardy because of one very big problem, and there are no easy solutions to it.
An alarming new report from the European Space Agency suggests that the very future of spaceflight is in jeopardy, and it is a problem that is without a straightforward solution. More than 750,000 pieces of dangerous debris are orbiting Earth today, ESA says, and they’re desperately appealing to satellite operators and space agency to clean up their messes or risk future space travel.
Scientists worry that the debris could also cause damage to the International Space Station. And only about 60 percent of satellites that should be disposed at the end of their missions actually are, meaning that space junk is turning into a real problem.
in the last 60 years, 5,250 launches have resulted in more than 23,000 tracked objects that orbit the Earth. Only 1,200 of them are actual working satellites, with the rest being debris just hurtling around the Earth. A total of 750,000 pieces are larger than 1 cm, making them dangerous. An astonishing 166 million pieces are larger than 1 mm.
“We require a coordinated global solution to what is, after all, a global problem that affects critical satellites delivering services to all of us,” said Brigitte Zypries, German Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, at a press briefing on the conference’s closing day in Darmstadt, Germany.
“In order to enable innovative services for citizens and future developments in space, we must cooperate now to guarantee economically vital spaceflight. We must sustain the dream of future exploration,” ESA Director General Jan Woerner said.