Two huge chunks of space junk almost collided over Earth


Mike Wehner

  • A discarded Chinese rocket stage and a Soviet-era satellite nearly collided over Earth overnight.
  • The collision would have created a huge amount of new space debris and made our current space junk problem even worse.
  • As we continue to launch more and more satellites, the potential for space junk to impact crewed missions increases.

In case you hadn't already heard: Space junk is becoming a real problem. There's so much manmade trash floating around in Earth's orbit that it's actually posing a danger to future space missions and even ongoing programs like the International Space Station. It's bad, and with companies like SpaceX planning on launching thousands of more satellites on a regular basis, it's only going to get worse.

On Thursday night, the seriousness of our space junk problem became abundantly clear when it looked like an old rocket stage from a Chinese mission was on course to collide with an already-dead Soviet satellite. Scientists monitoring both objects crunched the numbers and determined that there was an over 10% chance that the objects would collide, which is quite high and certainly worth paying attention to. Thankfully, the two large pieces of space debris missed one another, but that doesn't mean we can go back to ignoring our space junk woes.

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Two huge chunks of space junk almost collided over Earth originally appeared on on Sat, 17 Oct 2020 at 09:01:48 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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