300,000 dangerous objects! The technology to detect and track debris is amazing and plans to clean them up with lasers equally so.
A time bomb waiting to do serious damage and I don't mean no more MTV from satellites though that may not be a bad idea. I can foresee the
International Space Station being equipped with a killer laser with potential war application to kill military sats. All part of the plan?.
Below is excerpted from www.strategypage.com...
The U.S. is spending nearly a billion dollars a year in an attempt to better identify, and track, the larger, more lethal bits of space junk. Two
years ago the U.S. Air Force put a special Space Based Space Surveillance system (SBSS) satellite into orbit. This $830 million system uses a
satellite that contains a digital camera to take pictures of space debris, and make it easier to count and track the growing quantity of space junk up
there. Getting a better and timelier look at space junk has become a priority.
The U.S. has proposed using a space based laser to destroy much of the space junk. The laser either vaporizes debris, or damages the larger bits so
that its orbit "decays" and the junk moves down into the atmosphere and burns up. Many nations object to this proposal, as such a laser system could
also be used as an anti-satellite weapon. However, if the growing swarm of space junk destroys lots more satellites, that attitude may change.
After over half a century of humans putting objects into orbit, there is a lot of junk circling the planet. Currently, over 300,000 dangerous objects
10 mm (.4 inch) in size have been identified. The smallest of these is capable of disabling a satellite, or damaging a spacecraft. The damage is
severe because these objects can hit at very high speed (9-10 times faster than a bullet) if they, and their target, are coming from different
directions. There are nearly 18,000 objects 10 centimeters (4 inches) or larger. These can do some catastrophic damage to satellites or spacecraft.
There are millions of objects smaller than 10mm, and these are responsible for many satellites failing early because of cumulative damage from getting
hit by lots of these micro objects.
The U.S. Air Force Space Surveillance Network tracks over 18,000 objects 10mm and larger, but cut back on information sharing eight years ago, for
national security reasons. The United States eased up on this policy once the SBBS went into operation. With some 900 active satellites in orbit
(nearly half of them American) there is a need to provide better tracking of dangerous space junk. About 75 percent of all satellites are non-military
(most of them commercial, the rest government non-military birds.) With SBBS, the U.S. will be much better able to protect its satellites from the
growing debris menace. Other nations, particularly American allies, will want the same degree of safety.