Orbital junk threatens future space projects

A titanium motor casing from a Delta 2 third stage reentered the atmosphere over the Middle East in January 2001 landing about 240 km from the in Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh.
Credit NASA

Vancouver Sun Mon Jan 2 2012

By Margaret Munro
Postmedia News

The alerts from U.S. Strategic Command now arrive every couple of weeks – warnings that space junk is hurtling toward one of Canada’s multi-million-dollar satellites.

The mathematical whizzes at the Canadian Space Agency assess the odds of their space-craft being hit by the debris, much of it from missile tests, rocket launches and mid-orbit collisions. More often than not, they sit tight.

But five times this year the space agency has fired up the thrusters on Canada’s $500-million Radarsat satellites to move them out of harm’s way.

“The numbers of near-misses are going up, rather alarmingly,” said David Kendall, the CSA’s director general of space science and technology. Continue reading