India doesn't trust US with measuring space debris — and so it will set up its own agency

Representation of space debrisOffice of Safety and Mission Assurance, NASA

  • The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) plans to set up its own space debris monitoring system.
  • K Sivan, ISRO Chief, claims that data from the North America Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD) wasn’t accurate enough.
  • ISRO will use a network of telescopes and satellite across the country to safeguard its 50 functional satellites currently in space.
The threat from space debris is only growing and so is the need for accurate data.

Until now, India monitored its space debris using the North America Aerospace Defence Command ( NORAD).

But that’s set to change. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) planning to set up its own space debris monitoring system because NORAD data isn’t precise enough, according to K Sivan, ISRO Chief — speaking to TOI.

Replacing NORAD

Used rocket parts, non-functional satellites, lost astronaut tools and, in some cases, out-of-control space stations threaten functional satellites in space.

Space debrisESA

K Sivan, ISRO Chief, told TOI that NORAD’s publically available data isn’t accurate and the data which is accurate is exclusively available to NORAD members.

In order to safeguard its 50 functional satellites in space, ISRO is going to set up a network of telescopes and radars under the Directorate of Space Situational Awareness and Management to monitor space debris.

Accurate information on the location of space debris and where it’s headed, is integral to protecting satellites. This data can help determine the difference between an actual collision, and one that ‘might’ happen.

As the space gets more crowded, the information needs to be more precise.


Space pile-ups

Lost objects in space fly around, gaining speed. It can take a few hundred years before they fall back to Earth, or burn up in the atmosphere.

Monitoring these objects is all the more important since colliding would result in even more debris.

“It’s not like a highway here (on Earth), where there’s an accident and you can just come and clean it up and traffic continues,” explains Stewart Bain, the CEO of NorthStar Earth and Space — a Canadian company focused on space situational awareness — told Business Insider India.

“When we create it (an accident) up in space, it stays. You’re driving around the garbage mound. And the garbage becomes an obstacle to get around,” Bain adds.

India is also currently processing the ‘ Space Activities Bill’ to align its liability in outer space with international standards.

See also:
India forms a new space company to sell ISRO’s space technology products

India wants to set up its own space station to carry out experiments in microgravity

India's test of its anti-satellite weapon may have weakened its fight against dangerous space debris

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