TALKING TRASH L
Space is full of dangerous litter – and we haven’t yet cleaned up any of it
ATE one night in 1997 Lottie Williams was on a walk in the American state of Oklahoma when she saw a streak of light in the sky, then felt something drop down on her shoulder. It turned out to be a small chunk from a Delta rocket that had fallen from space.
Luckily Lottie wasn’t hurt – and just as fortunately this remains the only known case of a person being hit by a piece of space junk. In almost 60 years that humans have been going to space, we’ve left so much debris up there that it may be putting us all in danger.
Space debris not only falls to Earth – it can also collide with a spacewalking astronaut or a working satellite.
The International Space Station (ISS) has had to move position a few times to get out of the way of debris.
Scientists are looking at ways of addressing the problem, such as building spacecraft that can collect the junk.
SPEEDY JUNK X-15 ROCKET JET WHAT’S SPACE JUNK?
It’s a collection of discarded man-made objects orbiting Earth. These include old satellites, spent rocket stages and fragments from disintegrations, erosion and collisions between satellites and other objects. It can travel at speeds of up to 28 163km/h, fast enough for a relatively small piece of orbital debris to damage a satellite or spacecraft. This aircraft holds the world record for being the fastest manned aircraft. Its maximum speed was mach 6,72 (about 7 200km/h).