Satellites orbiting Earth are increasing like crazy — how do we prevent them from crashing?

In recent years, satellites have become smaller, cheaper, and commercially easier off the shelf. Some are underweight One gram. This means that more people can send them to class. Now, satellite operators have started working together in clusters of hundreds or even thousands of smaller satellites – mega-constellations – around the Earth.

Instead of one large satellite, clusters of smaller satellites can provide coverage of the entire planet simultaneously. Civil, military and private operators are increasingly using constellations to create global and continuous coverage of the Earth. Constellations can provide a variety of functions, including climate monitoring, disaster management or digital connectivity such as satellite broadband.

But with small satellites, a lot of them are required to provide coverage of the entire planet. On top of this, they have to orbit closer to the surface of the Earth to reduce interruption in coverage and communication delays. This means that they call an already busy area of ​​the Earth’s surface, which is 100 to 2,000 km above the Earth’s surface.

There are many issues related to bringing this many satellites into orbit. Dangers of space junk To Obstruct our thoughts Of the night sky. But the shift towards mega-constellations is also a challenge for global space governance.

There About 3,000 active satellites In orbit around the Earth today, and it’s set to skyrocket In the coming years. The European Commission, for example, recently Plans announced To launch thousands of satellites around the Earth, it was included in the growing list of planned mega-constellations.

60 Starlink satellites stacked together prior to deployment.