In the late 90s and early 2000s, there was much concern in the satellite and space industry, which I was working in at the time, over space pollution.

There were many initiatives by NASA and ESA, offering sums of money to any parties coming up with clever ideas to try to clean it up.

It was never solved.

At that time, there were around 4500 satellites in orbit.

I know this because, working in consultation with the NASA guru of such things, I produced a tool based on his existing orbital modelling software, which modelled satellite and other object trajectories using NASA three-line-entity ( TLE ) data, distributed daily.

We needed this to assist communications antennae tracking mechanisms.

Space pollution comprises space debris from various activities in space, orbiting uncontrolled.

A discarded or dislodged screw of a few millimetres in dimension, for example, orbiting at tens of thousands of miles per hour, as all things in orbit do, on an orbit from which its original fitted system has long since been controlled out of, for safety, can wreck a large satellite or spacecraft on a conficting orbit if it hits it in a critical place.

And it will go straight through a human in a space suit.

In the process of collision, many more fragments large and small, shatter off and head out in yet more different uncontrolled orbits, each representing yet more hazard for controlled orbiting craft.

That issue has not gone away.

The idea of 1500 more satellites going up, any and all of which will inevitably become part of the problem is pretty horrifying, especially to anyone expecting to inhabit or pass through the space around Earth in future.

Even under Ai control, there will be accidents, as even an Ai can’t know the locations and trajectories of all space debris.

And every accident will lead to others.

There is literally no room in space to “Move fast and break things”.

Besides the obvious expense of satellite hardware carnage, I think Musk and Space X could end up being the architects of the demise of their own claimed plans to inhabit space with humans, as it will be just too damned dangerous for humans to be up there.

It is surprising to me that there does not seem to be much publicity on that aspect of the argument.

Oh I forgot.

“Thou shalt make profit”, especially short term, has replaced “Thou shalt not kill”.

Solarpunk

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