Space junk is an issue that needs to be addressed. With space getting increasingly crowded, something needs to be done; otherwise, the risk of catastrophe cannot be ignored.
Just this week, three countries’ spacecraft arrived on or around Mars. China and the US have agreed to collaborate on lunar bases, and there are thousands of satellites orbiting Earth. According to sources, SpaceX is expected to be in charge of at least 12,000 and is looking to increase that number by another 30,000. Meanwhile, Blue Origin is looking to establish its own network of satellites in a lower orbit.
That results in a lot of space junk.
Right now, approximately 3,000 redundant satellites are hurtling around in space at about 10 kilometres a second (a sedate 22,000 or so miles an hour). And this is a recipe for disaster.
The good news is that where there is a problem, there is an entrepreneur ready to solve it, and make money in the process.
There is a company in Scotland (yes, it does sound odd) that has invented a space vehicle whose mission is to clear up space junk and keep space ‘sustainable.’
The company is called Skyrora, and it has been working quietly away so that, once regulation is in place to regulate space junk, it can launch itself at the problem. The Orbit Transfer Vehicle is designed to “clear debris, reposition satellites and remove defunct satellites from orbit.”
Not only is the vehicle one that will mop up after the space cowboys have left their litter lying around, but the fuel is about as green as you can get.
The management of space and the control of space junk is something that would have brought a smile to your face just a few years ago, but already it is something that the UN is focusing on. It seems that the Regulator is already moving into space, and rightly so.
Regulating space junk and enabling fines to be levied on countries and companies leaving their litter around is perhaps the first step towards something much bigger.
The regulation of space itself, which is going to be extremely complicated, be subject to that frail human lust to own stuff and quite possibly lead to the greatest conflicts humans have ever seen.
But at least it will nice and clean and free from space junk.