The space race is far from over and today there are several countries competing for supremacy in space. It has become clear from the international news that space agencies in at least four countries – the United States, Russia, India and China – have ambitious plans.
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And it’s not just for exploration or travel to places like Mars, the Moon, Saturn and Jupiter.
The development of weapons and military technologies to be put into orbit generate fears, in particular the testing of anti-satellite weapons.
These weapons are designed to disable or eliminate satellites for strategic military purposes. However, there is a side effect. They will considerably increase the garbage circulating in the Earth’s low orbit.
Space Debris Collisions
According to the director of the Institute of Astronomy of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Boris Shustov, the amount of space debris can reach the threshold of the Kessler syndrome.
But What is the Kessler Syndrome?
It’s a theory developed in the 1970’s by Donald J. Kessler, a consultant at NASA – the American space agency – which implies that the volume of space debris in the Earth’s low orbit would be so high that objects such as satellites would begin to collide with the garbage, producing a “domino effect” – generating even more garbage.
As the number of satellites in orbit grows – and deactivated satellites accumulate – the risk of collisions predicted by the Kessler syndrome increases considerably.
The International Space Station and thousands of satellites currently operate in low Earth orbit – less than 2,000 km away from the planet.
This could have significant consequences, such as an inability to operate space flights, disruption of global communications, or the undermining of military intelligence.
If things continue at this rate, everyone will start firing and destroying their satellites, and soon these fragments could destroy the International Space Station.
Russia warned that after the test conducted by India – known as the Shakti Mission – the likelihood of a major catastrophe in the region becomes clear.
India’s test – in which a satellite 300 km from Earth was destroyed – was also criticized by NASA and caused a global discussion about space policy.
Roscosmos said it wants to propose opening discussions involving the space powers to consider banning anti-satellite weapons testing, so as not to exacerbate the problem of garbage accumulation.