A mass of space junk is orbiting Earth and smashing into things, putting the Hubble Space Telescope and the international space station at risk,
The junk is a collection of small satellites, derelict rocket parts, and decommissioned spacecraft. About $127 billion in annual revenue from satellite services is vulnerable, according to the Satellite Industry Association.
The debris, “might make some regions of space unusable in the future, and that would impact everybody — everybody who uses a mobile phone, who gets television, who relies on weather forecasts,” said Holger Krag, head of the European Space Agency’s Space Debris Office.
The number of satellites being sent to space is not slowing down. SpaceX is trying to gain permission from the FCC to send 12,000 small satellites in low Earth orbits while universities and researchers are also planning launches. Eleven aerospace companies are also planning orbital networks, which would mean sending out 18,000 small communications satellites.
NASA will attempt to gather more data on space debris by launching a sensor in November, telling the WSJ, “We do realize we are behind the curve.”