Space missions are likely to encounter threats due to a large amount of debris released into space since decades. These particles may be released due to orbital junk or debris released by mankind, which may cause a threat to present and future space missions.
The European Space Agency director called Rolf Densing said that the large fragments found in space are destroying the spacecraft. Apart from this, the tiny objects that are hard to detect are also hampering space missions. These tiny objects which are debris are about 150 million in number.
Currently, there is about 5,000 debris having a size bigger than 3.25 feet and about 20,000 objects having about 3.93 inches’ size.
Even the smallest debris traveling at the speed of 17,500 miles per hour can cause damage to spacecraft. The colliding risk of these debris increases as a number of satellites launched into space increases.
Many companies like SpaceX and Google are trying to launch “mega constellations” of communication satellites called global wireless networks. But they scare to launch these satellites due to fear of collision. Also, these companies are planning to launch these tiny satellites into low orbit. The space simulation conducted by Dr. Hugh Lewis from the University of Southampton said that this debris can lead to catastrophic collisions among the satellites.
The huge damage is caused when the International Space Station(ISS) and the space debris travel in opposite direction with high speed. Robert Frost said that the ISS is fully protected and there isn’t anything that travels in ISS orbit. If the debris would travel to the ISS orbit then the collision would have taken place after every 45 minutes. The debris approaching the space around 2 o’clock or 10 o’clock are in different orbits and they have high relative speed.
The ISS has best shielding technology that is present at the front of the station. This shield is multi-layered having some space between the layers to slow down the speed of debris and prevent it from entering into the bottom layer