Image: European Space Agency

What’s New: Europe’s concern about the increasing amount of dangerous debris in space threating Galileo, GPS and other satellites in Medium Earth Orbit (MEO).

What to Know:

  • There are MILLIONS, maybe tens of millions, of pieces of debris in orbit around the Earth.
  • Only a small fraction can be tracked.
  • Most of the debris is in Low Earth Orbit (LEO), but 19% is in MEO. That is still A LOT of debris.
  • In 2021 a Galileo satellite in MEO had to be maneuvered to avoid a piece of debris from 1989.
  • Tens of thousands of new LEO satellites are expected to be launched in the next ten years.
  • Debris striking a satellite or other debris creates even more debris which can destroy even more satellites. Such a cascade is called the Kessler Syndrome. It could make LEO unusable.
  • A Kessler event could make it unsafe or impossible to even pass through LEO to get to MEO or GEO (geosynchronous orbit). Space would no longer be accessible. 

What it Means: Essential services, like GPS, should have terrestrial compliments to supplement them or take over if necessary. Note – See definition of “essential.”


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