In a unique case of space bumper cars, two pieces of rocket hardware have collided high above Earth. The orbital run-in involved a 31-year-old U.S. rocket body and a fragment from a more recently launched Chinese rocket stage.
Looking into the future, the Orbital Debris Quarterly News adds this sobering note:
“As the number of objects in Earth orbit increases, the likelihood of accidental collisions will also increase. Currently, hundreds of close approaches…between cataloged objects occur on a daily basis. If future spacecraft and rocket bodies are not removed from LEO within a moderate amount of time after the end of mission, e.g., within 25 years, the rate of accidental collisions will increase markedly later in this century.”
Now, when people talk about space debris, I think more often than not most people get the image of shards of metal floating aimlessly around in space. Sure, at the speeds they travel that can be dangerous. But, that’s not exactly what NASA’s concerning itself with. Picture the damage something like this can cause travelling at 10,000 miles per hour:
Now, remember that a piece of foam destroyed the last Shuttle.
Something needs to be done about space debris. It’s a disaster waiting to happen.
- July 29, 2005 -- Space Shuttles and Foam (7)
I have been threatening to do a piece on the Space Shuttles. This is sort of going to be it. Some rudimentary background:
February 1, 2003, Shuttle Columbia breaks up over Texas re-enterin...
- March 29, 2007 -- What goes up….. (0)
Pilots of a Chilean commercial aircraft approaching the Auckland airport in New Zealand said they spotted flaming space debris falling past their jet, the LAN Chile airline reported Wednesday.
- March 16, 2009 -- More space junk issues (0)
Last Thursday was an unexpectedly exciting day aboard the International Space Station. A piece of space debris so concerned NASA that they ordered the ISS crew into the Soyuz evacuation model. As...
- April 11, 2008 -- Touring space? (2)
Sir Richard Branson is doing everything he can to develop and promote his Virgin space tours. Great concept I think. I'd be all over that idea if it weren't for one pesky problem:
- October 19, 2011 -- Here comes ROSAT! (0)
Remember everyone freaking out over UARS? It wasn't that long ago. In fact, it was about a month ago. Well guess what?
This guy's coming home next week. The difference between ROSAT and ...