Artist's impression of space junk

Careful with That Orbit Now

Scientists and aerospace engineers alike have long been worried about the consequences of junking Earth’s orbit. On this site the topic was first mentioned shortly after North Korea put an (apparently) useless satellite up there. This is a serious issue, as highlighted by this year’s conference on space debris, which was understandably worried about recent initiatives that consist of launching entire constellations of micro-satellites.

Should we expect the worst to happen? With SpaceX alone planning to plant about 3000 (yes, that’s three thousand) satellites in orbit during the next decade, I think it is a valid concern. Especially as this is done with little (if any) preparation to mitigate orbital pollution.

Junking Earth's Orbit

Junking Earth’s Orbit

First of all, congratulations to India for launching 104 satellites in one shot. Congratulations also to the various organizations that will advance science through the various experiments on board them satellites. However…

I have said it in the past as well. We’re being careless with our orbital activities. It’s not only our forests and seas that we’re spoiling, but also our lovely planet’s orbital space. And like the environment down here, there’s only one up there and once we’ve ruined it, it’ll take a long time to fix.

North Korea's Most Dangerous Weapon

North Korea’s Most Dangerous Weapon: Incompetence

As you might know, on the 7th of February 2016, North Korea launched an “Earth observation satellite”. Governments across the world were probably right in condemning the operation. The same type of rocket can also be used for nuclear warfare. What about the satellite? Well, apparently it’s tumbling in orbit, useless.

Fun fact: there are about 2000 satellites orbiting our planet and an estimated 300.000 pieces of space junk. On average, we’re losing one satellite per year. A collision between two satellites could have dire consequences.