NASA may need to step up to protect satellites from space junk

NASA needs to do more to understand the risks that space junk poses to spacecraft and find new ways to mitigate the threat, according to a report by the Inspector General last week.

Why it matters: Some see space debris as an environmental crisis in orbit. Millions of space debris are racing around the earth at more than 27,000 km / h, putting spacecraft and sometimes people at risk.

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Driving messages: The new OIG report suggests that while NASA desorbed its own spacecraft and missile bodies well, many other nations have not been as proactive, launching spacecraft and missiles that will remain in orbit for longer than the recommended 25 years.

  • Now experts are warning that the space agency must both mitigate the garbage already in space and prevent future garbage from being generated in order to ensure the safety of spacecraft in the future.

  • “Despite instructions from the President and Congress to NASA over the past decade to develop active debris removal technologies, the Agency has made little or no progress in such efforts,” the OIG wrote.

  • The OIG also recommended that NASA develop a better means of tracking and understanding the nature of space debris in orbit in order to more effectively protect its spacecraft.

The catch: Nations and private corporations are working to find ways to effectively clean up the space, but these technologies are still in the early stages of development.

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Originally published February 2, 2021, 11:33 a.m.

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