11 June 2017

The Long, Slow Decline: The Kessler Syndrome

The Kessler Syndrome, proposed by Donald Kessler in 1978, is a runaway destruction of satellites in orbit by space debris. As each satellite is destroyed it produces more debris that destroys more satellites until space becomes inaccessible from the Earth because the planet will be surrounded by an impenetrable barrier of shrapnel for decades. The more rockets that are sent up, and the more decommissioned satellites that remain in orbit, creates an increasing probability for a cascading failure of low earth orbit. Currently there are no extant methods of reducing the amount of garbage in space. This represents yet another technological hurdle that humanity will need to solve in order to avoid the decline and pursue a spacefaring future.