Risk from space debris grows as orbit becomes more crowded
Pictured is a fiery sunset taken by an astronaut aboard the International Space Station on Oct. 27, 2016. (NASA)
The Associated Press
Published Friday, April 21, 2017 6:44AM EDT
BERLIN - Decades' worth of man-made junk is cluttering up Earth's orbit, posing a threat to spaceflight and the satellites we rely on for weather reports, air travel and global communications.
More than 750,000 fragments larger than a centimetre are already thought to orbit Earth, and each one could badly damage or even destroy a satellite.
Experts meeting in Germany this week say the problem could get worse as private companies send a flurry of new satellites into space over the coming years, unless steps are taken to reduce space debris.
Luisa Innocenti of the European Space Agency said Friday a first mission to capture space junk is being planned, but noted that it is highly complex because failure could worsen the problem by creating more debris.