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When debris overwhelms space
by Staff Writers for Launchspace
Bethesda, MD (SPX) Oct 11, 2018

The bottom line is that this cannot be allowed to happen. Somebody has to pay to cleanup space, and that somebody is going to be everybody on the planet, one way or another. To paraphrase a popular muffler ad: "You can pay now, or you can pay later. However, the cost is going to be much, much higher if we wait."

We see more and more reports of debris concern among satellite operators and space observers. Add to this the many recent announcements of multiple broadband satellite constellations that are being funded and developed for launch in the next few years. Just focusing on low Earth orbits (LEO), there are an estimated 10,000 satellites in the works.

SpaceX alone plans on launching over 4,000 of these multi-hundred-kilogram spacecraft that are now being built in Redmond, Washington. Add all of the broadband satellites to the hundreds of planned CubeSats and we have a new satellite population that is at least an order of magnitude larger than what is now in LEO. This explosion in population will be accompanied by an explosion in LEO debris. The implications are extremely serious.

Assuming no debris removal and control program is implemented, it is estimated that within the next decade the debris population will overwhelm LEO operations to the point that space access may be completely impossible. This cannot be allowed to happen because the world's economy will be set back at least one or two generations.

Since the military depends heavily on space, national defense capabilities will also be seriously diminished. Just imagine not having GPS, direct-to-home TV broadcasts, satellite weather, missile defense detection and many other services we now take for granted.

Once the debris takes over, there is no known way to then clean up space. It is fair to say that such a cleanup, if possible, could take decades or even centuries. Without space our technological future will be quite limited. Even our present way of life will disintegrate and revert back to the last century.

The bottom line is that this cannot be allowed to happen. Somebody has to pay to cleanup space, and that somebody is going to be everybody on the planet, one way or another. To paraphrase a popular muffler ad: "You can pay now, or you can pay later. However, the cost is going to be much, much higher if we wait."

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Plasma thruster: New space debris removal technology
Sendai, Japan (SPX) Oct 01, 2018
The Earth is currently surrounded by debris launched into space over several decades. This space junk can collide with satellites and not only cause damage to spacecraft but also result in further debris being created. To preserve a secure space environment, the active removal or de-orbiting of space debris is an emergent technological challenge. If remedial action is not taken in the near future it will be difficult to sustain human space activities. To overcome this issue, several methods for th ... read more

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