the “new” problem of nuclear space trash
February 12, 2009 1 Comment
The Wall Street Journal says:
A commercial satellite owned by a U.S. company was destroyed in a collision with a defunct Russian military satellite in what NASA said was the first such accident in orbit, raising new concerns about the dangers of space debris.
and they helpfully include this image with the article:
A computer-generated artists impression released by the European Space Agency depicts an approximation of 12,000 objects in orbit around the Earth.
NEW concerns? There is that much crap floating around in our atmosphere and now that there has been a major crash of two satellites, now we have NEW concerns?
Industry officials say Iridium has identified the Russian craft as a Cosmos series satellite launched in 1993, weighing more than a ton and including an onboard nuclear reactor.
It seems more accurate to say that this has been a concern since nuclear reactors started getting launched into orbit around our planet.
Reuters chimes in with this:
There are about 18,000 identifiable, man-made objects in space, including operational and defunct satellites, spent rocket boosters and debris. Experts said that while the risk of satellite collisions like Tuesday’s was exceptionally small, now one had occurred it made another more likely.
update: From the Associated Press on February 13, 2009:
The crash of two satellites has generated an estimated tens of thousands of pieces of space junk that could circle Earth and threaten other satellites for the next 10,000 years, space experts said Friday.
… Meanwhile, there’s no global air traffic control system that tracks the position of all satellites.The U.S. military tracks some 17,000 pieces of space debris larger than 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 centimeters), along with some 900 active satellites. But its main job is protecting the international space station and other manned spacecraft, and it lacks the resources to warn all satellite operators of every possible close call.
Previously at the Kiwi…