NASA must do more to understand the risks posed to spaceships by space debris and find new ways to mitigate the threat, according to a report released last week by the Office of the Inspector General.
Why is this important: Some see space debris as an environmental crisis in orbit. Millions of space debris revolve around Earth at over 17,000 km / h, putting spaceships and sometimes people at risk.
Driving the news: The new OIG report suggests that while NASA has done a good job of deorbiting its own spacecraft and rockets, many other countries have not been so proactive, launching spacecraft and rockets that stay in orbit longer. than the recommended 25 years.
- Now, experts warn the space agency will need to both mitigate waste already in space and prevent the creation of future waste to keep spacecraft safe in the future.
- “Despite Presidential and Congressional direction to NASA over the past decade to develop active debris disposal technologies, the Agency has made little or no progress in these efforts,” the OIG wrote. .
- The OIG also recommended that NASA develop a better way to track and understand the nature of space debris in orbit in order to more effectively protect its spacecraft.
The catch: Nations and private companies are struggling to find ways to effectively clean up space, but these technologies are still in the early stages of development.