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A giant piece of space junk is hurtling towards Earth (abc.net.au)
25 points by clouddrover 6 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 21 comments

> here's how worried you should be.

... A lot, according to this newspaper. Because the more worried/stressed/scared you are, the more likely you are to feel you need to care about reading the news every day.

As for how worried you should actually be that you'll get hit by a piece of space debris: zero. You should be zero worried. And you should stop reading scaremongering newspapers like this and go find your information somewhere that is not actively trying to make you feel stressed and scared all the time.

Note: I'm not saying this story is not newsworthy. It is. I'm merely commenting on the awful writing style used in this article. Murdoch is to blame, no doubt.

I agree the style and headline is a little annoying but this is a story that is worth a little worry. Not because it is going to land on your head but because of the pattern of behavior. Here is an article about the same topic from the Guardian[0]. It isn't the first time China has allowed uncontrolled re-entry of something that will probably not burn up entirely in recent history. At some point space is an area the whole world is going to have to figure out the rules together and when any country doesn't follow those rules we (the world) need to find some way to hold them (absolutely any country or company launching) accountable. Especially when it has the potential to land and cause damage and kill people.

[0] https://www.theguardian.com/science/2021/may/04/out-of-contr...

Abc.net.au is the public owned broadcasting in Australia. No Murdoch, however it has got very click baity in the last couple of years.

It's Chinese space junk so clearly very terrible. Unlike Western space junk which would "most likely" fall in the ocean.

> A giant piece of space junk is hurtling towards Earth. Here's how worried you should be

Imagine that headline in a printed newspaper. It would look ridiculous-- like a supermarket magazine article. It feels to me as if the quality of most media presentation had devolved into blogging. Maybe this is a side effect of competition, but its terrible. Unfortunately, we must be in the minority, because the style must be making them money or they wouldn't be doing it.

Edit: changed actual to printed for clarity and added title

This is an actual newspaper - it's one of the main "serious" Australian newspapers, apparently.

Yes- sorry-- by actual newspaper, I meant printed newspaper.

I'm all for more access to space and more innovation, but in a way almost unique to space (maybe only applying to things like the internet), borders aren't really practical and the cost of problems may have to be borne by bystanders.

I think there are some agreements/treaties on how access to space will be done, but I believe they're quite US-centric, stemming from NASA's work in 50s. I don't believe that China (or Russia?) subscribe to that kind of regulation.

How do we incentivise all countries with launch capabilities to be good citizens in space? Cleaning up after themselves, controlling re-entries, thinking about ground safety, etc.


“Under the terms of the 1972 Space Liability Convention, a state which launches an object into space is liable for damages caused by that object. For the recovery efforts, the Canadian government billed the Soviet Union C$6,041,174.70 for expenses and additional compensation for future unpredicted expenses; the USSR eventually paid C$3 million.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Liability_Convention says China, Russia and the USA ratified that convention.

Responsibility has always ended at the border, Shipping trash overseas or dumping it in a river is the status quo. Space is not special. Kessler syndrome is a risk akin to global warming when we entered the industrial age.

>I don't believe that China (or Russia?) subscribe to that kind of regulation.

Most launches are being done by US/EU based companies. if those adhere to not polluting space in an unproductive manner then we'll be fine. making 'rules' that everyone can adhere to just leads to everyone sticking to the lowest common denominator. Which to me, is a worse situation than legislature picking up resposibility on their own.

Well, considering there's tens of millions of space junk already I wonder which countries/institutions are currently not doing a good job at that?! NASA and US would be top of the list.

Much of these are old and were put up a long time ago. In the last 10 years most people putting things in space have been far more careful to make good end-of-life plans, safe de-orbiting plans, and more. I don't think a rocket launched by SpaceX/ULA/Arianespace would be leaving their second stages to re-enter the atmosphere uncontrolled, it's just not really accepted anymore.

> I don't think a rocket launched by SpaceX/ULA/Arianespace would be leaving their second stages to re-enter the atmosphere uncontrolled

Well, except the Falcon 9 rocket that did just that 2 months ago: https://geekologie.com/2021/03/a-falcon-9-rocket-made-an-unc...

Disappointingly, neither that article or the parent about the Chinese Long March rocket make it clear how planned or unplanned this was.

Falcon 9 rockets usually land or attempt to, so that was a failure or malfunction, that left it out of control in a short-term orbit?

And in the Chinese one? Was this outcome expected or was it due to a failure to de-orbit in a controlled way?

There are currently very few (no other?) pieces of space junk as big as this one.

Not if you limit it to anything that might fall to Earth any time soon.

> I don't believe that China (or Russia?) subscribe to that kind of regulation.

> How do we incentivise all countries with launch capabilities to be good citizens in space?

re: China and Russia, we need to worry more about how to get Space Marines and defense systems up there.

The whole "co-operative, neutral citizens of space" ship has long since sailed, and anyone who thinks we shouldn't at least treat it like contested international waters is naive.

The tracker linked in the article wasn't working for me. Here's another one: https://www.n2yo.com/?s=48275&live=1

I remember when Skylab crashed, it was not treated as a joke, and there was some effort to find ground crew veterans and reestablish minimal control in case it was headed for a major city. There was considerable uncertainty until a day or so before the crash where in the world Skylab was heading.

And Cosmos 954 was definitely no joke.

Is there no way to force a crash into a certain region?

If a satellite is being retired is it possible to fire it's rockets to set it on a trajectory to land in a predictable location say Sahara desert or the Marianas trench?

This would obviously not apply to nuclear satellites.

As far as I know the long march booster doesn't have a way to turn back on, it's one of the few rockets that does only one burn to reach orbit.

At this point it's just a tumbling chunk of solid material

See this video about it https://youtu.be/06GUEkc4EEA

I'm surprised to read how many nuclear power stations still rotate up there...

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