The scale of the space debris problem is enormous, since more than 17 thousand objects larger than 10 cm are orbiting near the Earth. The matter is further complicated by the fact that each of the large objects can potentially, in turn, split into thousands of smaller ones.
Scientists have proposed directing special satellites to the largest fragments of space debris, such as, for example, spent rockets. These vehicles will attach boosters to them, allowing them to direct rockets towards Earth, and they will burn up upon entering the atmosphere.
In 2007, China demonstrated a space system that destroyed its own spent satellite, but also created 2, 000 new debris in space. Later, the amount of space debris increased even more, after the collision of the American and Russian satellites.
Scientists fear a chain reaction of sorts called Kessler syndrome, named after one NASA employee who first described it in 1978. This chain reaction occurs when one fragment collides with another, creating a mass of new fragments, which, in turn, continue to collide with other objects, creating a whole cloud of debris. Because of this, huge sections of the near-earth orbit become inaccessible.
The wreckage poses a threat not only to artificial satellites, but in some cases even to the International Space Station and crewed spaceships. According to a recent study, there are more than 60 objects at a distance of about 850 km from Earth, about 70% of which weigh more than three tons each. Many of them revolve around our planet at a speed of 7.5 km / s.
In this case, there are many political difficulties, since many of these garbage sites belong to different countries, which do not want to cooperate or do not allow to touch their sites, although they have already worked out theirs. At the same time, there is no international legislation that would clearly define who exactly should deal with the cleaning of items remaining in space.
However, the biggest obstacle in its implementation, apparently, will still be politics, since people will not believe that this project is aimed only at destroying space debris and does not pursue any other goals.