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Thread: Ep. 591: What Are We Gonna Do With All That Space Junk?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2003

    Ep. 591: What Are We Gonna Do With All That Space Junk?

    Astronomy Cast Ep. 591: What Are We Gonna Do With All That Space Junk? by Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay Remember the good old days when there were only a few thousand living and dead satellites? Well, those days are long over. We're now entering an era where there will be tens of thousands of satellites. Not to mention the spent rocket boosters and other space junk. What kind of risk do we face and what can be done about it?


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2020
    London, UK
    Hi Fraser and Pamela

    Thanks for the fascinating insight into attempts to tackle space junk. I was also interested in the comments on science correspondents. I never realised how few dedicated correspondents were left.

    Bringing the two themes together, there was a useful article in the UK publication "The Economist' in the science and technology section (yes -they still have one!) about space junk called "The Dustman Cometh" which I think brings a different perspective through focusing on the economics and policy options for the solution.
    Behind a paywall though (where I suspect a lot of dedicated science writing may lurk!)

    The technical issues are of course crucially important in tackling the space junk problem and that is what you focus on - but it is also important to factor in the economics, policy issues, scope for international regulation etc to get a full picture, which I think the article tries to do.

    But the article doesn't avoid the technical complexities.

    It would be interesting to know the risk analysis behind their conclusions (quoting JAXA and Aerospace Corporation specialists) that removing maybe one dozen of the 'larger derelicts' every year should be enough to mitigate the risk of the chain reaction you mention.

    It gives details on the forthcoming JAXA Astroscale test (due to launch in March) and its limitations.

    It then goes stress that removing junk will be expensive, suggesting that de-orbiting can add 20m onto the operation's price tag. I will try and explore the economic issues in "The Emerging Space Economy" thread in Space Exploration when I get a chance. Are there any other relevant Cosmoquest threads on space junk to continue the conversaton?

    But even better, how about getting in touch with The Economist and seeing if you could interview the correspondent who wrote that piece? I think it would add a different and interesting angle to the discussion.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2020
    According to the calculations of the European Space Agency, more than 29,000 particles over 10 cm. Each of them in a collision is guaranteed to destroy any spacecraft or orbital station. There are more than 17 million particles ranging in size from 1 mm to 1 cm, and all of them are of artificial origin. Such particles can, in an unsuccessful collision, knock out the spacecraft and even break through the meteorite protection of the orbital station. As for me, this is the real problem, not the Starlink satellites disturb the astronomers' work by their brightness.

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