European and U.N. bodies on Thursday outlined a joint push for global action on space junk, saying that debris orbiting the earth must be cleaned up as satellites launched by private companies and other new entrants are adding to the crowding.
So-called space debris has been an issue since the Cold War-era space race between the United States and Soviet Union. But in the absence of solutions, and with emerging countries like China and India having developed the ability to shoot down satellites, it has only got worse.
The amount of debris
- ranging from dead satellites to specks of paint is so great that the European Space Agency "very frequently" has to alter its satellites' course to avoid larger objects, ESA chief Jan Woerner said. He was taking part in a stage discussion with the head of the U.N. Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), Simonetta Di Pippo. "If your car is gone, you are allowed to have it 25 years in the middle of a crossing that would be totally stupid. It's not possible," Woerner said. "And ... space is something like that like a road, like a street. It's infrastructure and we have to make it clean."
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