Despite efforts to tackle the problem of space debris in orbit around our planet, the ESA has issued a hazardous report stating that the problem is getting worse over time, with explosive consequences. </p><div><p>Space debris has been accumulating since such pioneering space missions as the launch of Sputnik 1 in October 1957 and the Apollo 11 mission to the Moon in July 1969. <span class="read-more-big__container"> <span class="read-more-big__content"> <span class="read-more-big__subtitle">Also on rt.com</span> <span class="read-more-big__title">It is feared that the two old satellites will be in each other over the US this week.</span> </span> <span class="read-more-big__cover lazyload" data-bgset=" https://cdni.rt.com/files/2020.01/xxs/5e303d7685f5400a6738ae73.jpg 280w, https://cdni.rt.com/files/2020.01/xs/5e303d7685f5400a6738ae73.jpg 320w, https://cdni.rt.com/files/2020.01/thumbnail/5e303d7685f5400a6738ae73.jpg 460w, https://cdni.rt.com/files/2020.01/m/5e303d7685f5400a6738ae73.jpg 540w, https://cdni.rt.com/files/2020.01/l/5e303d7685f5400a6738ae73.jpg 768w, https://cdni.rt.com/files/2020.01/article/5e303d7685f5400a6738ae73.jpg 980w, https://cdni.rt.com/files/2020.01/xxl/5e303d7685f5400a6738ae73.jpg 1240w " data-sizes="auto"/> </span>
Rocket boosters, function satellites and a variety of spaceborne shrapnel now abound with ornate operational craft in Orbit. With each new satellite launch and mission in the ISS, the risk of collision increases, as objects destroy each other, yet produce more debris.
Earlier this year, there were fears that two old satellites might collide, while the International Space Station was also forced to conduct emergency maneuvers to avoid collisions three times in 2020 alone.
There have been about 12 fragmentation incidents annually for the past 20 years, and the number is increasing. An ESA model suggests fragments of more than 130 millimeters in space will be found.
Existing space stations and satellites are also regularly breaking into the atmosphere, increasing the size and density of existing debris fields. However, the ESA is highlighting the risk from orbital explosion as a top priority in its latest report.
“The biggest contribution to the current space debris problem is the explosion in the orbit, which is caused by left-energy and fuel – onboard spacecraft and rockets,” Said Holger Cragg, head of ESA’s space security program.
“Despite measures being taken to curb this for years, we do not see any decline in the number of such incidents. The trend towards end-to-mission settlement is improving, but at a slower pace.
The agency highlighted the need for more prolific use of reusable rockets to reduce the amount of orbital detritus, as well as improved spacecraft manufacturing techniques that reduce the likelihood of them slowly disintegrating over time.
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The report also suggests releasing stored energy and fuel or moving the spacecraft into safe orbit using this energy to reduce the number of orbital explosions in the debris field.
These include the so-called “graveyard orbit” occupied or decomposed by operational spacecraft, which will eventually drag the craft back down to Earth where it will burn in the atmosphere.
Meanwhile, the agency has embarked on a project to collect space debris, proof of which was the projected concept sometime in 2025.
Automated systems to prevent high-risk collisions are also under development, keeping in mind the need for human controllers to track each and every faulty satellite and composite other decommissioned craft.
“Space debris has created a problem for the environment near Earth on a global scale, to which all astronaut nations have contributed and for which only globally supported solution can be the answer,” The ESA concludes its report.
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