In space, a swarm of waste

“Dangerous.” Irresponsible. A The United States and NATO have reacted angrily to Russia’s launch of an anti-satellite missile on November 15.

Analysis. Anti-Satellite Missile: A New Battlefield for Space, Great Power?

Destroying an extinct satellite of its own, Russia has deliberately built Will create more than 1,500 identifiable orbital debris and possibly thousands of smaller orbital debris, “he said. The head of US diplomacy, Anthony Blinken, has said.

“This Russian shooting is not illegal.”

“This Russian launch is not illegal in the absence of global law governing the use of space, but it does violate the best practices adopted to respect states, especially through the UN Resolution on Space Debris Prevention. 2007,” Philip Achilles, a space law expert at the University of Paris-Sacle, noted. “This guideline significantly eliminates any intentional explosions in orbit”, The researcher says.

Maintenance. “We need international rules for space debris”

Because at a speed of about 28,000 km / h, even small objects turn into potentially destructive racing cars. The risks are real: as evidenced by the need to divert the International Space Station’s (ISS) trajectory several times to avoid various impacts or collisions with launchers. There was even an accident in February 2009 between the old Russian military satellite Cosmos and an Iridium telecommunications satellite.

Faced with a new swarm caused by Russian fire, the space station’s seven astronauts had to prepare for a possible emergency evacuation when a collision occurred during its first two passes around a cloud of debris. “Because every ninety minutes the station passes or passes by.”Says Anthony Blinken.

Millions of debris in orbit

Since the launch of the first Sputnik satellite in 1957, space – albeit abundant – has been scarred by debris. According to the European Space Agency’s (ESA) space debris office, there are 34,000 objects in orbit larger than ten centimeters – including 4,550 satellites – but also 900,000 objects one to ten centimeters and 130 million smaller.

Read again. The ISS again deviated from its course to avoid the wreckage of the rocket

Every year for twenty years, the ESA has recorded an average of twelve to thirteen accidental fragments, creating debris after a collision, a satellite explosion (voluntarily or not) or a general isolation due to adverse space conditions. “The United States has the best space mapping capabilities for tracking satellite orbits and debris to avoid collisions,” he said. EHESS astronaut Isabel Sorbes-Verger mentions.

“Good habits are spreading”

Calendar prospects: During the Paris Peace Forum on November 13, space agencies and satellite operators launched a special “Net Zero Space” initiative. It’s about making promises “Urgently reduce the number of debris in Earth’s orbit”, So that “Ensuring the safety of space missions”. This initiative comesAt a time when the hunger for space, between the stars of satellites and private flights, is increasingly indifferent.

France is a model country in this regard: in 2008 it passed a law banning waste generation. “As satellites reach the end of their lives, batteries and tanks become empty and must be absorbed in less than 25 years.” Pierre Omali of the National Center for Space Studies (Cnes) explained. Satellites burn up when they rub against the atmosphere, and they move in such a way that their last wreckage falls into the Pacific Ocean, away from any settlement. “These good practices are spreading, but we will have to wait for the end of the life of these gifted satellites to measure the effect of regulations.” The expert adds.

Editorial. Anti-satellite missiles: aggression and aggression

But France, the fourth largest contributor to space, does not weigh too much with its 3% or 4% of space objects, while the United States, Russia and China account for more than 90% of the total waste. “All operators are interested in saving space, but how much are they willing to pay for good practice?” Isabelle asks Sorbes-Verger. For Philip Achilles, it would probably be a big accident for the international community to find itself against the wall and impose compulsive practice on itself.

Leave a Comment