US, Russia and China made up for 88 percent of space debris, India among the lowest contributors

Apr 11, 2022

By: Kritti Bhalla

Over 25,000 space objects are orbiting the earth

There are 25,182 pieces of space debris in the lower earth orbits, within 2,000 kilometres (km) of earth’s surface, according to the latest issue of Orbital Debris Quarterly News. The report published by NASA’s Orbital Debris Program Office also revealed that the size of these debris is larger than 10 centimetres.

Credit: Canva

Most of them are space debris

These 25,182 pieces of space debris, include 8,171 active and defunct spacecrafts and 17,011 objects categorised as “spent rocket bodies and other cataloged debris” as of February 4 of 2022.

Credit: Canva

The biggest contributors

United States of America, China and Commonwealth Independent States (CIS) like Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan are currenlty the biggest contributor of space debris, the report has revealed.

Credit: Canva

USA the worst

The USA has 4,144 active or defunct spacecrafts and 5,216 objects categorised as debris. CIS stands next in line with 1,551 spacecrafts and 7,032 space debris. China has 517 spacecrafts and 3,854 such space debris. These three regions make up for over 88 percent of space debris.

Credit: Canva

UK only has 1 object as space debris

The United Kingdom (UK) has 448 active and defunct spacecrafts and 1 object categorised under space debris.

Credit: Canva

India’s contribution among the lowest in the world

India's contribution to space debris, on the other hand, has fallen to the lowest levels in the last four years. The country only has 217 objects in space, including 103 spacecrafts and 114 space debris. India’s contribution to space debris had increased sharply in 2019 after the country’s first-ever anti-satellite test.

Credit: NASA

The government is on a lookout for more technology

“Presently, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has taken up research activities to study the feasibility and technologies required to undertake active debris removal (ADR),” Minister of State Jitendra Singh told the parliament.

Credit: ISRO

ISRO is working on self-eating rockets

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chairperson K Sivan, in November 2021, mentioned that they are working on futuristic technologies such as self-eating rockets and vanishing satellites as part of the measure to reduce space debris.

Credit: ISRO

What’s the plan for now?

“All our rockets have metal casings that are dropped into the sea after launch or become (final stage) space debris. We are working on a technology where rockets will effectively ‘eat themselves’ leaving no waste dropping into seas and no space debris. Or this, we’re looking at space material for casings that can burn up along with motors,” Sivan elaborated.

Credit: ISRO

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