Rocket Lab CEO Suggests Space is Becoming Overcrowded

27th Oct 2020
Peter Beck, CEO of Rocket Lab

Earth’s orbit is under the threat of overcrowding as many more spacecrafts are launched into space by commercial companies. Consequently, Rocket Lab reports the crowding effects as it feels the pressure mount due to congestion. 

Coupled with Starlink constellation launches by SpaceX, spacecrafts now find it tough to find a clear path to launch. According to the Rocket Lab CEO, rockets are now forced to find paths between the objects that are already orbiting the earth. Furthermore, the more rockets that are launched into orbit, the more littered space becomes. 

A Junkyard in Space According to Rocket Lab CEO

Space remains highly unregulated, with the last agreement dating more than 50 years ago. As a result of this, commercial launching companies have no clear guidelines to follow. This has led to a scramble as they compete in sending as many satellites into space as possible. 

For this reason, soon, the orbit near the earth will resemble a junkyard. This is not unknown to most as scientists have warned of this possibility for decades now. Also, an even bigger disaster looms if two objects collide, which can set off a horrific chain reaction. 

And to make matters worse, the catastrophe can impact orbiting spacecraft and rockets. With the earth’s gravitational pull in play, the colliding objects can shoot shrapnel over a widespread area. 

Already there are areas of the earth’s orbit that show signs of congestion, states the Rocket Lab CEO. He emphasizes that it’s time for companies to take a step back and evaluate this matter. 

How Companies can Practice Safe and Sustainable Launches

SpaceX has addressed this issue and has stated they intend to practice being a responsible leading company. One way to achieve this is by equipping their satellites with the ability to move their position, out of the way for other objects in orbit. Another way is to enable their satellite constellations to orbit at lower altitudes, especially in crowded areas. 

However, the danger still looms as the Rocket Lab CEO states, and Space Traffic expert, Moriba Jah, echoes this. He managed to create a database that shows the potential collision spots with a detailed chart available online. 

Potential space junk collisions chart
Potential Collision Spots in Orbit

The online chart is a visual dotted outline of where objects can potentially pass within a 6 miles radius 20 minutes apart. The results currently show that the dots are becoming denser in many parts of earth’s orbit.

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