Bikram VohraApr 02, 2019 16:39:45 IST
The aggressive and condemnatory response from NASA to the Indian ASAT blasting of a satellite in low orbit is out of line and righteous to the point of absurdity.
Seeing as how NASA showed the way to the interplanetary waste bin, this should have been a caution, not a chastisement. The fact that another 400 pieces of debris have been added to the 29,000 odd items of large debris (more than 10 cms) that clog the spaceways and make up space debris cannot be denied and we can debate the need to have shown this prowess as long as we want but you cannot criticize or block a nation from doing what you have done in creating the problem of dirtying up space.
According to the European Space Agency, there are another 75,000 more little pieces floating around, posing a danger to orbiting satellites because even a collision with one small piece can wreck the system and render the satellite useless.
For example, there is the famous screwdriver that slipped out of an astronaut’s hand that has been orbiting the earth at 21,000 mph for the past 35 years. If it hits a satellite, it's boom, that party is over.
Between the US, Russia and China and France, the majority of the stuff up there can be dubiously credited to them.
The irony is that for the past ten years the danger of so much rubbish in the sky has been reiterated and explained. Future missions to the moon or Mars or even the dispatch of commsats at huge costs are in jeopardy because one particle can cause a catastrophic loss.
The NASA ‘naughty, naughty’ reaction is knee jerk. In the last seven years there have been over 2,000 space ventures and, according to Astroscale, a corporation that focuses on the cleaning up of space, there are a scheduled 10,000 more satellites going up in the next five years with nearly every country on the planet wanting some piece of the pie in the sky.
So what is this junk that accumulates up there and reflects mankind’s predilection for dirtying up everything including his home, his environment, his forests, his waters, and his mountains?
Between pieces of blown up satellites or those that were sent back to earth to burn up on entry but broke apart before, rocket boosters, loose panels, and metal pieces from functioning satellites and non-functional obsolete satellites that have not been ‘shot back’ home, it is a disaster. Even paint flakes are debris, as are pieces of shrapnel from rocket stages that were released after having served as boosters.
In brief, there are three stages to the issue. The first is to clean up the place and the board members of the club who have contributed the most to this threat need to step up. If India’s 400 pieces make it a fully paid member, so be it.
Two, there has to be some codicil globally that if you send up a satellite you are responsible for the safety and security of the space paths as also for the other satellites bearing different flags.
Three, a method has to be found that is cheap and workable to force debris into the earth’s atmosphere and destroy it, and while private organizations are experimenting and researching, it is necessary for governments to join in.
India will go ahead with its advanced electronic intelligence satellite officially undeterred by the space debris issue which it says will not affect the launch.
One day, there will be a global price to pay. With advancement comes responsibility and we need to ask if we have taken it upon ourselves to clean up after us.
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