Waste in Space -
Is Space Wasted?
Tuesday, 27 February 2018, 7pm
Festsaal of the Diplomatische Akademie Wien
Since 1957, more than 4,900 space launches have led to a current on-orbit population of more than 18,000 tracked objects, of which only 1,100 are functional spacecraft.
The remaining 94% of the objects are objects which no longer serve any useful purpose, called space debris. About 64% of the routinely tracked objects are fragments from breakups, explosions and collisions of satellites or rocket bodies. In addition, there is evidence of a much larger debris population, of an estimated 750,000 objects larger than 1 cm and 170 million objects larger than 1mm are expected to reside in earth orbits that cannot be tracked operationally.
Due to relative orbital velocities of up to 56,000 km/h, the rising population of space debris increases the potential danger to all space vehicles. Centimeter-sized debris can seriously damage or disable an operational spacecraft, and collisions with objects larger than 10 cm can lead to catastrophic break-ups, releasing hazardous debris clouds of which some fragments can cause further catastrophic collisions that may lead to an unstable debris environment in some orbit regions. This is called the Kessler syndrome.
Space debris mitigation measures, if properly implemented by spacecraft designers and missions operators, can curtail the growth rate of the space debris population. Active removal, however, has been shown to be necessary to reverse the debris increase.
To improve our understanding of the space debris environment, assess related risks, mitigate its growth, and control its stability, a multitude of technical disciplines is required.
Niklas Hedman, Chief of the Committee Policy and Legal Affairs Section, United Nations Organization for Outer Space Activities
Cenan Al-Ekabi, Resident Fellow at the European Space Policy Institute (ESPI)
Michael Kenn, Space Physics Departement, Center of Medical Statistics, Informatics, and Intelligent Systems (CeMSIIS), Technical University Vienna
Edward Burger, Euroconsult, European Space Policy Institute (ESPI)
Join us on the 27th February for a fascinating panel discussion to find out what our international experts have to say on this topic.