Never satisfied, we homo-sapiens just have to know what’s up there beyond the blue. How many planetary civilizations live beyond Pluto’s dark side? As of yet, nothing launched beyond the Earth’s atmosphere has provided their addresses. Since satellites are only good for one shot, it’s easier just to leave them floating around beyond the great unknown than to try and recover them. And why go through the expense? Let ‘em be some other civilization’s problem.
But exploratory satellites only constitute a mere fraction of what we’ve shot into space to make our lives more comfortable. The other satellites must remain within the Earth’s atmosphere to be effective in assisting the spoiled inhabitants of Earth so we can make it through our daily routines.
Satellites track weather patterns and bounce telephone signals around the world. They allow apps like Mapquest to tell us where and when to turn right or left. They let us chat on Facebook. They bring 397 channels of reruns into our living rooms, and they allow countries to spy on each other.
When something runs amiss with one of these satellites, a new shiny one is blasted up as a replacement and the old useless one is left to float around the atmosphere till armageddon does it pass. Or, unless the country of its origin finds a need to blow it up.
It’s getting kinda junky up there, which was evidenced last Fall when the International Space Station narrowly escaped colliding with debris when the Russians had a satellite they thought easier to explode in space.
Florida’s Marco Rubio understands the intensity of the growing issue and though it’s far too late to correct the problem that’s already been caused, he aims to at least put an end to the practice of blowing up satellites. Rubio is suggesting sanctions as a way to punish space litterers.
According to his staff, Rubio will propose the Deterring Errant Behavior Risking International Space Act, or the DEBRIS Act, later this week. See what he did there?
Marco said in an email, “We must punish reckless space behavior. Russia and China should be held accountable for negligently creating space debris and endangering space assets critical to our national security. My bill would create consequences for this dangerous behavior and protect our astronauts and space infrastructure.”
When the ISS incident occurred last Fall, a dead Russian satellite was purposely exploded, sending more than 1,500 pieces of debris flying straight at it. It managed only by a miracle to not be struck.
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said, “They blew up an old dead satellite and put so much space debris up there that they actually had to move the station to avoid some of the debris.”
“My personal opinion is that that was one hand in Russia not coordinating with the other hand. That’s the military space in Russia not coordinating with civil space.”
China’s space station was also threatened by the flying debris but they couldn’t say a word since they were guilty of doing the same thing in 2007. The ISS still has to track the debris from that one to avoid running into it.
An email from Rubio’s staff said their boss’s bullseye is painted on “foreign persons who intentionally generate debris.”
Who would have thought that space trash would one day become such an important issue?