Orbital junk threatens future of space travel acording to NASA
The alerts from U.S. Strategic Command now arrive every couple of weeks — warnings that space junk is hurtling toward one of Canada’s multi-million-dollar satellites.
The mathematical whizzes at the Canadian Space Agency assess the odds of their spacecraft being hit by the debris, much of it from missile tests, rocket launches and mid-orbit collisions. More often than not, they sit tight.
But five times this year the space agency has fired up the thrusters on Canada’s $500-million Radarsat satellites to move them out of harm’s way.
“The numbers of near-misses are going up, rather alarmingly,” said David Kendall, the CSA’s director general of space science and technology.
Space debris is already a big problem, and threatening to get so much worse that engineers are now sizing up the possibility of sending tow trucks into orbit to clean up the heavens.
More than 16,000 chunks of debris, ranging from baseball-sized to bigger than a refrigerator, are circling the planet. The growing list includes everything from dead satellites to rocket boosters to a tool kit dropped by astronauts.