The Problem of Space Trash


Space trash is something that could be prevented if someone creates a solution for space debris. NASA has tracked over 500,000 pieces of space debris orbiting the earth. These pieces of debris are traveling at dangerously fast speeds of up to 17,500 miles per hour. An item moving that quick could easily damage a spacecraft. These pose a threat to space shuttles with humans aboard such as the ISS (International Space Station). Natural debris mostly circles the sun. This natural debris includes meteoroids. The Earth, however, has plastic debris which is humanmade. These include items that are just not needed anymore which are thrown out into the Earth’s orbit. Of the estimated 500,000 pieces of debris circling the earth, NASA expects that about 20,000 of those pieces are more substantial than a softball. Space shuttle windows have even had to be replaced with stronger glass because of the findings that even a paint fleck could damage a spacecraft. Surprisingly, little accidents have been reported by space debris. A French satellite was hit in 1996 when debris from a French rocket that had exploded more than a decade ago hit the moon. A defunct Russian missile collided with a fully-functioning U.S. commercial satellite which added over 2,000 pieces of debris into the Earth’s orbit. Incidents like these are making the amount of space debris increase at an unbelievable rate. I believe that if we could design a robot that could collect space debris if sent out into the orbit, we could prevent space disasters that may soon happen in the future. NASA has said that there are millions of trash so small that can’t be tracked. Anyone of these millions of waste could strike a spacecraft at any time, causing a disaster. With a bit of work, we may be able to create a robot that we can send into space to collect millions of pieces of space debris. What to do with this trash? How to manage the garbage? Is getting it into space efficiently possible? These are the questions we have to solve.


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