Have you ever wondered what happens with all the debris from space missions and old satellites that no longer work? Well, they stay in orbit in the form of a cloud of more than 9,000 tons of space junk that poses serious risks to the International Space Station and our modern way of life. For example, weather forecasting, GPS and telecommunications could be affected if these debris hit the structures that sustain these services down on Earth.
With more and more man-made objects being launched each year, especially now with SpaceX’s Starlink satellites, a company called Astroscale is working on getting a solution to clean up space debris. By launching a small spacecraft with a satellite attached, the space junk will be snatched and brought down to Earth’s atmosphere where it will burn up. Moreover, Astroscale is hoping that new satellites will incorporate a docking plate that will make them easier to remove from orbit at the end of their life span.
By cleaning up unnecessary junk from orbit, experts hope they can avoid catastrophic collisions and protect the space ecosystem for generations to come. There are at least 26,000 pieces of space junk orbiting Earth that are of the size of a baseball or larger that could destroy everything on its path - just watch the movie Gravity to see how this could end up.
Luckily, with the help of these initiatives we can hope for a decrease in these smaller rubbishes.
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