Space traffic is surging, and critics worry there could be a crash

Feb. 3, 2020
Some satellite operations experts say that all too often, only one thing stands in the way of disaster: an automated email alert sent to the inboxes of operators on the ground, reports Geoff Brumfeil for NPR.

WASHINGTON - A rocket from the commercial company SpaceX lifted off on Wednesday morning with some 60 satellites aboard. Once they reached low Earth orbit, the satellites were released and began to fan out like a deck of cards, reports Geoff Brumfeil for NPRContinue reading original article

The Intelligent Aerospace take:

February 3, 2020-If SpaceX and other private launch companies plans come to fruition, orbital Earth is about to get a lot more complicated. Astronomers have complained about the impact the bevy of new satellites will have on their ability to explore the universe from Earth-based observatories, but that's not the only concern.

For decades, the United States military has been tasked with tracking potential collisions between more than 26,000 satellites or other objects, but as space gets more crowded, that job has gotten more difficult.

"We're already out in front of the headlights, so to speak," says Moriba Jah, an expert in orbital mechanics at the University of Texas at Austin. "And I think a major cataclysm of some form will happen in space that will have very long-term consequences."

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Jamie Whitney, Associate Editor
Intelligent Aerospace

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