From the beginning of the space race we have been launching objects into orbit around the earth that all have limited lifespans. Everything from satellites used for communications, mapping, weather forecasting, and GPS (Global Positioning System) tracking on earth to the booster rockets used to launch spacecraft from the hold of earth’s gravity. There is an abundance of debris already orbiting the earth from both government and commercial sources. No one country is to blame as every country with a space program has contributed to the orbiting cloud of space trash now circling our planet.
According to a 2011 report from the National Research Council, “Derelict satellites, equipment and other debris orbiting Earth (aka space junk) have been accumulating for many decades and could damage or even possibly destroy satellites and human spacecraft if they collide.” Left unchecked, this problem will exponentially grow as space debris collides with functioning satellites and only add to the challenge. While some space trash falls out of orbit and incinerates during re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere, there have been many examples in recent years of these objects making impact with the ground or falling into the world’s oceans. Compounding this problem is the fact that many of these objects contain toxic or hazardous materials. Waiting and hoping is simply not a sustainable way forward in dealing with the growing problem of space waste.
Space Waste Solutions is committed to facing the challenges of both existing space waste and planning for proper waste management in future space development. Failure to properly plan for waste management has caused many building projects and developments to stall here on earth. Likewise, failure to plan and innovate solutions to space waste challenges will also lead to stalled development in space tourism and future exploration. With the growth of Space Tourism and commercial spaceflight ventures, now is the time to develop strategies and infrastructure that will support future opportunities.
Many privately funded organizations and businesses have begun seeking creative solutions to the problem of orbiting space junk. Space Waste Solutions believes that the answers and innovations needed to overcome these challenges will come through commercial and private sector efforts, building on the rich history and foundation laid by government agencies such as NASA and the ESA. Highlighting advances driven by those such as Google’s XPrize and Lunar XPrize organizations, Made In Space’s space recycling and 3D printing efforts, along with many others is a major way Space Waste Solutions promotes the call for a response to this growing challenge.