Science Scope

Space junk could destroy communications on Earth

Space junk could destroy communications on Earth

Posting in Science

There is so much space junk. If the rubbish collided with satellites, communication systems could be disrupted.

You can't exactly see space junk when you look up into the sky, but it's a problem that won't go away. Sure, you've heard warnings before. But this time, the Department of Defense found that the space junk is reaching a critical tipping point.

Sputnik One was the first piece of debris to orbit the Earth. Today, there are 370,000 pieces of junk in space, but only 1,100 satellites, according to Popular Science.

Do the math. A collision is inevitable. And when that happens, our communication would be disrupted and the $200 billion industry would suffer.

The DoD's Interim Space Posture Review warned of the congestion problem in space. Worse, there could be wide-spread disruption to daily activities if such a "series of chain-reactions" was set off by chance collisions.

The junk is sometimes as large as a school buses and can orbit the Earth at 17,500 miles per hour.

Imagine the damage space junk could do to a satellite or manned vehicle. If two hit, then the debris will break into tiny pieces and create even more junk. One collision turned into 1,500 bits of rubbish. And another produced 150,000 pieces of space junk.

This could quickly get out of hand.

As the commercial space industry takes off, more regulations and policing will be needed so our GPS systems, communication, and economic stability are maintained. There's no getting around this one: more junk, more problems.

Image: ESA

Share this

Boonsri Dickinson

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Boonsri Dickinson is a freelance journalist based in San Francisco. She has written for Discover, The Huffington Post, Forbes, Nature Biotech,, and AOL. She's currently a reporter for Business Insider. She holds degrees from the University of Florida and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure