Microsatellite Project SIOKEN
The huge number of debris in space due to the human activities since the launch of Sputnik in 1957 is a major problem. Of 4 700 space missions that have taken place since that time, just ten account for a third of the current debris. Space debris in orbit around the Earth due to the upper stages of launchers, elements of satellites, other artificial fragments present a potential collision risk for the satellites. Despite the reduction in the number of launches, it is a major problem for satellites set on Low Earth Orbit and Geo-stationary Earth Orbit (14000 catalogued objects, 400 000 debris larger than 1cm, 135 millions debris larger than 1mm). The interest of the space agencies to prevent accidents and to clean the space is notable.
The Earth is surrounded by a cloud of more than half a million pieces of space junk, from bus-size spent rocket stages to tiny flecks of paint. Orbiting at breakneck speeds, every last bit poses grave dangers — and means huge insurance premiums — for operational satellites, and it threatens the International Space Station, too. Every time two orbiting objects collide, they break up into thousands more pieces of debris.
Annual loss of European satellite operators from collision of spacecraft with space debris have reached €140M. Already in the soonest years, if to leave all as it is today, the collision will reach €210M annually.
NASA estimates that about 500,000 pieces bigger than a marble and 22,000 as large as a softball whiz around Earth at fantastic speeds. And there are probably hundreds of millions of flecks at least 1 millimeter in diameter.
This cloud of junk poses a threat to the satellites and spacecraft circling our planet, including the Int'l Space Station, and many researchers say humanity must act soon to prevent the problem from really getting out of hand.