“Those that have the most satellites, it’s those that probably have contributed on a bigger scale to space debris, and I think also are the same ones that could profit the most if we avoid future collisions.”
In recent years, spacefaring nations have adopted guidelines which determine that every spacecraft must be moved out of harm’s way within 25 years of ending its life.
Nearly 17,000 pieces of debris, each larger than an apple, and another half a million pieces larger than a marble are regularly tracked by NASA. It is estimated that there are about 200 million pieces larger than one millimeter that is floating around with the satellites, and traveling at 17,500 miles an hour, even those tiny pieces pack a serious punch if they were to hit a functioning satellite.
The US is believed to hold the most complete catalogue, listing an estimated 20,000 pieces of junk, he said, and Europe — both ESA and its individual members — fewer than 10,000.