The space debris environment and its impacts
The problemof space debris first arose on 4 October 1957.Onthat date, the Soviet Union placed the very first artificial satellite in orbit around the Earth using a Semyorka rocket. This rocket’s final stage (6500 kg) and protective fairing (100 kg) remained in the same orbit as Sputnik (84 kg), so in fact the ‘functional’ payload was little over a mere 1% of the total mass injected into orbit. Moreover, this 1% operated for just 21 days before re-entering the atmosphere 92 days later: the “functional” 1% of the injected mass had thus been debris for three quarters of its orbital lifetime.
KeywordsSpace Activity International Space Station Space Shuttle Space Debris Current Question
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