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Aggressive action on space debris called for by ESA Director-General

On November 19, Jan Woerner who is a European Space Agency Director-General said at the space Tech Expo that instead of waiting for global consensus on new regulations in preventing space debris, space agencies and firms are taking fast action.

He added that each one of them needed to act fast, instead of waiting for the regulations to guide them in doing their job.

On a specific citation, Woerner was concerned about the mega-constellations and the effect they will bring about on space debris. The federal communications commission of the United States of America has accepted SpaceX plans of operating a 12,000 Starlink broadband satellite constellation. SpaceX filed paperwork for the 30,000 additional satellites with the International Telecommunications Union.

 Woerner confirmed that the current constellation would not be 100% efficient. If a 42,000satellites constellation displays 95 or 97 percent efficiency, then between 1,260 and 2,100 are likely not to work as expected. 

Woerner said that in days to come, everyone who is launching a satellite must –by morals, ethics, looking for regulations- ensure this satellite will not become debris in space in the future. This is because they do not have all the time in the world to wait for regulations.

Woerner stated that satellite engineers must make sure their satellites must have a superfluous active deorbiting system, hire another firm to deorbit their satellites or give a space agency deposit to deorbit their satellites after thy fault do so.

Woerner said that he would propose a debris mitigation program that entails in-orbiting servicing, on the next meeting of the ESA Ministerial Council. Operative debris removal and active debris avoidance, Woerner said this referring to systems that immediately deorbits any part of the spaceship that would pose any additional space debris by remaining in space. 

With the multiplication of the number of objects in space, scientists believe that there is a high chance of collision among the objects, some already having occurred. This might become the prime source for new fragments in orbit. Scientists have come up with measures that would curb the issue. However, spacefaring organizations are facing many challenges while implementing these measures. 

Highlight discussions would address the bigger issues like the existing practice in implementing measures of debris avoidance, novel concepts for actively removing the debris and large constellation deployment of several thousand satellites for the purpose of telecommunications. 

This post was originally published on Food and Beverage Herald

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