The subject of space debris – the terrible dangers it poses and the challenges we face in trying to both reduce new debris and remove what is already there – is a major focus of the Reducing the Risks of Space campaign. Our Safe Space podcast series as well as a brand new Better Satellite World video explore this issue in more detail.
Keeping Open the Road to Space
Sponsored by Space Shuttle Children’s Trust Fund
Without risk, there can be no reward worth having. Space offers plenty of both. The risks begin the moment we set out riding into space on a column of fire. Millions of systems and software codes have to work right to keep failure at bay. Upon reaching orbit, we find only a vacuum filled with deadly heat, cold and radiation.
Everything we fly must operate and even support human life in a place where nothing can live. We can do it only because more than half a century of engineering experience goes with us and that has made space a very rewarding place, a place where we do billions of dollars’ worth of business, something unimaginable at the dawn of the space age.
But the old risks remain, and we have added new ones for that same half century. We’ve been littering the road to space with rocket engines, failed satellites and broken equipment. Earth orbit holds almost 100 million pieces of debris moving at blazing speeds. A piece of junk may be no bigger than a softball but can hit with the force of a bomb. When things collide in orbit, they make more debris.
We also keep launching satellites by the hundreds and thousands. The more we launch, the closer comes the day when Earth orbit could become a minefield that neither people nor machines dare enter. Without meaning to, we could close the road to our future. So, how can we keep it open?
Safe Space: Things that Go Bump in the Night
In this podcast, we hear from Rob Schwarz, Chief Technology Officer at Momentus, who is responsible for the vision and technical direction of the full line of Momentus products. Under his technical leadership, Momentus is commercializing its pioneering and sustainable Microwave Electrothermal Thruster, a new kind of in-space engine that uses water as a propellant.
This podcast is the third episode of the Safe Space podcast series. The series is sponsored by Momentus.