Scientists warn that there is a 10 percent chance that an unmanned spacecraft will kill someone

Scientists have warned that there is a 10 percent chance that an out-of-control rocket or spacecraft could kill someone within the next decade.

They analyzed the risk to human life of objects falling to the ground after re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere.

In keeping with current practice, the researchers found that if a typical rocket re-entry scatters debris over an area of ​​10 m2, then there is about a 1 in 10 chance of having one or more casualties over the next 10 years.

They also said there is a higher risk for those who live in the global south, as erroneous pieces are three times more likely to land at the latitudes of Jakarta, Dhaka and Lagos than at the latitudes of New York. Beijing or Moscow.

The study was conducted by experts from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

While rocket launches vary, boosters and other large rocket parts fall back to Earth or are left in orbit.

In most cases, the discarded rocket parts re-enter the atmosphere in an uncontrolled manner, and the debris can land anywhere along the flight path.

Scientists have warned that there is a 10 percent chance that an out-of-control rocket or spacecraft could kill someone within the next decade. Pictured is a Chinese Long March 3B rocket.

In April, a 10-foot-wide metal ring collapsed in an Indian village, said to belong to a rocket launched into space by China a year ago.

In April, a 10-foot-wide metal ring collapsed in an Indian village, said to belong to a rocket launched into space by China a year ago.

HOW MANY OBJECTS ARE IN ORBIT?

  • Rocket launches since 1957: 6200
  • Number of satellites in orbit: 13 100
  • The number is still in space: 8410
  • The number is still valid: 5800
  • Number of garbage objects: 31 500
  • Breaks, explosions, etc.: 630
  • Mass of objects in orbit: 9900 tons
  • Predicting the amount of debris in orbit using statistical models
  • More than 10cm: 36 500
  • from 1 cm to 10 cm: 1,000,000
  • from 1 mm to 1 cm: 130 million

Source: European Space Agency

Using satellite data from the past 30 years, Michael Byers and his colleagues at the University of British Columbia predicted the “expected loss” – or risk to life – over the next decade from uncontrolled rocket reentries.

The team focused on parts of the missiles that remain partially intact and pose a danger to people on land, at sea or in aircraft.

The authors found that current practice has an average 10 percent chance of one or more accidents over the next decade if each re-entry scatters deadly debris over an area of ​​10 m2.

Moreover, this risk is disproportionately borne by the global South.

The researchers also say the technology for controlled re-entry systems already exists, but needs to be the collective will use them because of the associated costs.

They concluded that without multilateral agreements on mandatory controlled return of rockets, spacefaring nations would continue to export these risks unnecessarily.

“Recent advances in mission technology and design make most of these unsupervised re-entries unnecessary, but launching states and companies are reluctant to incur increased costs,” the team wrote.

“Those national governments whose populations are at risk should demand that the leading space powers act in concert, authorize controlled re-entry of a rocket, create meaningful consequences for non-compliance, and thus eliminate risks for all.”

The study comes amid widespread concern about space debris and the threat it poses to both low-Earth orbit and humans on Earth.

The European Space Agency estimates that about 13,100 satellites have been launched into orbit since 1957, of which 8,410 remain in space and 5,800 are still operational.

The total mass of all objects in orbit is about 9900 tons, and statistical models suggest the presence of 130 million fragments ranging in size from 1 mm to 1 cm.

Literally last monthhave UK government announced plans to create a “RAC for space” as part of its vision to combat the millions of pieces of debris littering Earth orbit..

Some large cities and high-risk cities are designated: 1 — Moscow;  2, Washington DC;  3, Beijing;  4, Dhaka;  5, Mexico City;  6, Lagos;  7, Bogota;  8, Jakarta

Some large cities and high-risk cities are designated: 1 — Moscow; 2, Washington DC; 3, Beijing; 4, Dhaka; 5, Mexico City; 6, Lagos; 7, Bogota; 8, Jakarta

This pie chart shows each state's share of expected global losses.

This pie chart shows each state’s share of expected global losses.

Warning: The UK government has announced plans to combat space debris, throwing down the reins on a 'Wild West' approach to litter Earth orbit with hundreds of old satellites and millions of debris (file image)

Warning: The UK government has announced plans to combat space debris, throwing down the reins on a ‘Wild West’ approach to litter Earth orbit with hundreds of old satellites and millions of debris (file image)

He also wants to improve the sustainability of future space missions, with Science Secretary George Freeman sternly warning countries like Russia and China that “the days of building whatever they want must be gone.”

He said that the “Wild West” space race, without effective regulation, would only exacerbate the growing threat of debris in orbit, including hundreds of old satellites.

Mr Freeman also told MailOnline that he expects Elon Musk to support the UK’s pursuit of space sustainability, adding that the need for action is not something the American billionaire can ignore.

Musk’s critics say his Starlink constellation is taking over space and both China and the European Space Agency have targeted his satellite internet system, but the Tesla founder dispel those fears.

A range of new UK government measures include regulating commercial satellite launches, rewarding companies that minimize their presence in Earth’s orbit and allocating an additional £5 million for space debris cleanup technologies.

Research published in the journal Astronomy of nature.

WHAT IS SPACE GARBAGE? OVER 170 MILLION DEAD SATELLITES, SPENT ROCKETS AND PAINT COTTON POSE A “THREAK” TO THE SPACE INDUSTRY

It is estimated that there are about 170 million pieces of so-called “space junk” left behind from missions the size of spent rocket stages or the size of paint flakes, as well as about $700 billion (£555 billion) from space. infrastructure.

But only 27,000 are being tracked, and fragments capable of traveling over 16,777 miles per hour (27,000 km/h), even tiny pieces, can severely damage or destroy satellites.

However, traditional gripping methods don’t work in space because suction cups don’t work in a vacuum and the temperature is too cold for things like tape and glue.

Magnets based grippers are useless because most of the debris in orbit around the Earth is not magnetic.

Approximately 500,000 man-made debris (artist’s impression) is currently orbiting our planet, consisting of obsolete satellites, spacecraft debris, and spent rockets.

Most proposed solutions, including debris harpoons, either require or cause a force interaction with the debris that can push those objects in unintended, unpredictable directions.

Scientists point to two events that greatly exacerbated the problem of space debris.

The first occurred in February 2009, when the Iridium telecommunications satellite and the Russian military satellite Kosmos-2251 accidentally collided.

The second incident occurred in January 2007, when China tested anti-satellite weapons on the old Fengyun meteorological satellite.

Experts also pointed to two sites that had become alarmingly cluttered.

One of these is low Earth orbit, which is used by satellite navigation satellites, the ISS, China’s manned missions, and the Hubble telescope, among others.

The other is in geostationary orbit and is used by communications, weather and surveillance satellites that must maintain a fixed position relative to the earth.