In an Air & Space story titled “Satellite Smashers,” Tony Reichhardt looks at the increasing threat posed by orbital debris. The space garbage, which comes from everything from spent rocket stages to anti-satellite tests, can disable automated spacecraft and puncture human habitats when it hits them at more than 17,000 miles per hour.
NASA’s Nicholas Johnson is conducting a comprehensive study of options with debris experts from the United States, Japan and Europe. The group will present their findings to the International Academy of Astronautics next year.
â€œNo easy or cheap solutions have yet been identified,â€ Johnson said. â€œSome of the ideas are technically outlandish, some are technically feasible. If you want to spend tens of millions to retrieve a single rocket body, you can do it. But it doesnâ€™t make any sense economically.â€