The growth of low-orbit satellites poses challenges for space sustainability

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The exponential increase in satellites in low Earth orbit poses significant challenges in terms of space sustainability. With more than 7,000 satellites in operation and the expectation of an increase in the near future, it is essential to address the problem of congested space and the accumulation of space debris. In this article, we’ll take a look at key points from a panel of experts who discussed the implications of this growth in low-Earth orbit and possible solutions to ensure a sustainable space environment.

The change in low orbit and the need to update the regulations

Astroscale’s vice president of space policy and global government relations, Charity Weeden, highlights how the landscape in low-Earth orbit has changed in recent years. With the participation of more than 100 countries in the exploration and use of space, the benefit of society in various fields, such as education, communication, security and economy, has become evident. However, existing regulations are not enough to address the fast pace of launches and the accumulation of space debris.

The rise of satellites and management challenges

In just four years, the number of satellites in low orbit has grown from 2,500 to more than 7,000. This increase is largely due to the expansion of mega-constellations such as SpaceX’s Starlink. However, more mega-constellations are expected in the coming years, such as Amazon’s Kuiper Project and similar projects from China and Europe. These numbers pose significant challenges in terms of management and coordination to avoid collisions and maintain a safe space environment.

The need to share monitoring data and set standards

One of the most pressing problems facing decision makers is the lack of communication and cooperation in the exchange of monitoring data between private companies and nations. Alex Fielding, co-founder and CEO of Privateer Space, stresses the importance of sharing tracking data and establishing common standards for operating safely in space. This involves not only tracking known objects, but also understanding and managing smaller space debris on an ongoing basis.

The optimistic vision and the need for collaboration

Despite the challenges, Bhavya Lal, NASA associate administrator for technology, policy and strategy, maintains an optimistic outlook, saying the problem is manageable if properly addressed. Lal stresses the importance of taking the issue of spatial sustainability seriously and working together to find effective solutions.

You have more information at arstechnica.com

Image generated with Midjourney

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Brian Adam
Professional Blogger, V logger, traveler and explorer of new horizons.