Summary: Space clutter is already a problem and as we look ahead to Space 2.0 and Space 3.0, it’s going to get worse.
Original author and publication date: World Economic Forum – November 24, 2019
Futurizonte Editor’s Note: We are already disconnected from nature and now we will soon be disconnected from the night sky. No wonder we feel alone and unwelcome in the universe.
From the article:
Satellites promise to better connect us via the internet – even those of us living in places as remote as Antarctica or the outer islands of Tonga.
But as governments and companies gear up to launch waves of additional satellites in the near future, it’s raising troubling questions about the impact on the ability of scientists to effectively monitor the heavens, and even on our view of the night sky.
Elon Musk’s company SpaceX recently launched a second batch of dozens of satellites intended to provide internet service. The company’s first batch of satellites, launched earlier this year, resulted in surprise and dismay when people realised just how bright they were – and some fretted about a loss of visibility for astronomers. S
paceX’s ambitions coincide with the emergence of “Space 2.0,” an era of new technologies including lower-cost, smaller satellites that can be built relatively quickly and launched en masse by either governments or private companies.
This promises to sharply accelerate our physical presence in space, more than half a century after the Soviet Union launched Sputnik. As of the beginning of this year, some 8,950 satellites had been placed into orbit – and while 5,000 of those were still in space, only about 1,950 were still functioning. In addition, there were about 34,000 bits of debris bigger than 10 centimetres in size orbiting Earth. Now, we’re on the cusp of a potentially significant increase in space clutter. SpaceX, for example, ultimately plans to launch a fleet of satellites equal to about eight times the number currently in orbit.