Have you ever heard that there are thousands of floating garbage in space?
This junk, called Orbital Debris, could be a size of a fleck of paint or could be as large as a softball. They may seem small, but they can cause significant damage as they travel at a top speed of about 17,000 mph. In fact, there are a lot of mishaps that happened due to collision with space junk. Imagine a thing as small as a fleck, could damage aircraft windows.
There is still no technology to collect garbage in space as of this writing. There is one waste management firm is investing into research of innovative ways to manage waste, some of their new inventions leads us to believe that there could be ways that such inventions could be adopted by space agencies to help them with the ‘space junk’ problem
Scientists could also invent something like a dumpster that can magnetize all the orbital debris and incinerate it using solar power.
Until there is a concrete solution to eliminate space debris, we will continue to have this kind of space collisions.
1996 – A French satellite was hit by debris from another rocket that exploded years ago.
2009 – A non-operational Russian satellite collided and destroyed a working United States commercial satellite. This collision resulted to additional debris in space.
Then in 2007, Chinese tested their anti-satellite missile to demolish an old satellite. The rocket was successful in creating more debris in space.
With these space junk problems, NASA and the Department of Defense work together to track down the debris that is bigger than a softball. A debris as big as that could pose a significant danger to the astronauts and damage to our working satellites in space.
To address this concern, NASA has set some guidelines to assess the threat of orbital debris. The Mission Control Centers in the United States and Russia are tracking the movement of bigger debris, and when they find a potential risk that could cause a collision, they will advise the astronauts a course of action.
If the debris is found out in advance and there is sufficient data to know the precise position, the station could move slightly to dodge the upcoming debris. However, if the data is insufficient to provide the exact position, they will advise the crew to relocate to another spacecraft, such as the Soyuz. This space shuttle acts like a lifeboat for the crew to escape dangerous situations in the stations.
It may sound very simple, but each move should be well-coordinated, or the effect could be lethal to the crew. The damage made by the debris to satellites in space would also affect devices that use satellite information.
We are yet to know how to get rid of these floating garbage in space. It is not even feasible to dispose this orbital debris to the sun. Until then, astronauts need to master space maneuvers to stay away from the ruins to protect themselves and the multi-million dollar equipment that we have in space. It is such as shame that humans leave trash everywhere they go, including space.