Posted by: thescoundrel | February 20, 2008

Falling Satellites – Space Debris – Space Pollution


Now that the space shuttle Atlantis has landed the USA is preparing to take action against a rogue satellite falling from orbit still filled with the toxic materials used as fuel for the craft. The Navy is hoping to to be able to use a missile to pierce the fuel tank thus dispersing the fuel while also breaking up the craft enough to reduce the mount of dangerous debris falling back to earth. Unlike Ellen Muth/Georgia Lass we should not have to worry about a falling toilet seat from this satellite sending us into the next state of existence. But it is expected that about fifty percent of the debris will survive and mostly burn-up traveling its way through the atmosphere. Granted that is not always the case as some sizable pieces of crafts have survived reentry over the years we have had to deal with falling space debris. It also reminds us of another problem we face as the planet continues it reach for the stars, space debris. Much like the outerspace regions in the video game Freelancer, the space surrounding our planet is becoming a huge junkyard. So much so that there are currently around 13,000 pieces of measurable space debris floating above our heads. It is getting so congested that they have had to beef up the new spacecraft and orbital satellites to survive the occasional high-speed collisions with the floating debris. As the world ambitiously reaches for the stars, maybe it is time we started to give consideration to fixing the pollution of junked spacecraft, slag and space waste we are creating in space before it gets out of hand and out of control as pollution already has in may places on the planet.

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Wikipedia Space Debris Article.

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Responses

  1. as a kid, i always wondered if we could get rid of nucleur waste via outer space. couldn’t we theoretically take it up in a space craft and shoot it towards the sun? assuming we got our physics correct, we could aim it so it would get pulled in by the suns gravity and simply dissolve into the sun.

    does that sound totally absurd?

    i do realize the logistics of putting nucleur waste in spaceships is pretty implausible, but lets disregard that for now.

    also, the reason i thought of that, is because why not do the same with all space junk? shoot it off towards an object that can handle the collision with no problems. i would assume anything we got up there would be zapped out of existence by the suns heat and gravity and awesomeness.

  2. I have always thought along the same lines as using the sun as some sort of blast furnace for nuclear waste, Robbie. At current the cost would be probably be too prohibitive. After listening to people like Art Bell, who live near the planned Yucca mountain storage area, my guess is they would champion such as method of disposal as an alternative method. I think the other problem we would find is the same problem we are already experiencing in transporting nuclear waste, the NIMBY people. There are already tons of NIMBY’s that scream whenever a load of nuclear waste is known to be traveling through their area. Can you imagine the screaming when they learn that the same nuclear waste they fear traveling by truck is now flying over the tops of their heads inside a giant bottle rocket that if it exploded would spread the waste for hundreds of miles? I think shooting nuclear waste in to space is the only method that will probably work long term though unless there is some scientific way found to molecularly change the radioactive sate of the waste. Until then we just sit on our haunches and pretend the problem will go away, while considering building even more nuclear plants to replace current oil dependent facilities.

    As to the space debris, that could also probably be pushed in some orbit, but I think considering that most of the metals are finite resources, that it would be better to find a way to salvage the metals. Maybe finding a way to force them onto the moon’s surface for reclamation once we are more technologically advanced. LOL, my late grandfather would love that idea: a junkyard in space – it would probably be profitable once they figure out how to setup living space on the moon.

  3. […] on Crashing Spy Satellite Jump to Comments In an update of my earlier post about the spy satellite that is falling from orbit: Robert Burns is reporting for AP that the US Navy announced that at […]

  4. i wonder if they could create a relatively safe space journey? i mean if they can protect the little black box in airplane crashes and such, i wonder if it would be possible to create some big lead box to protect the radioactive waste? assuming the box was safe, it would be no different than shooting off a rocket with a bunch of soiled baby diapers or something else arbitrary.

    maybe we should attach a giant winch to the spacestation and slowly tow the packages up there!

  5. I personally think once they perfect the space ladder idea the world will be one step closer in having an viable less expensive way of transporting materials like nuclear waste off the planet. The idea is very similar to what you are talking of and less dangerous than moving things on top of a rocket. I remember some time back there was talk on building one and possibly attaching it to the space station, yet I cannot say for certain on the progress of the idea.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_elevator

  6. The style of writing is very familiar . Did you write guest posts for other bloggers?

  7. I personally think that pollution in outer space is one of the leading causes towards pollution in general.
    I wish that some how we could just get rid of it by either having it disenigrate from the sun or taking down to earth for proper dissposel.

  8. Considering that the components are resources that could be recycled they need to work at finding a way to recycle the space trash.

  9. if iam to construct my house near an earth sate lite, what precautions do i have to take?


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