Space is full of mystery. It’s also full of things we don’t need, such as space debris and old satellites. By launching new satellites, they might collide with the old ones. There is one effective way to solve this entire problem, and that is not to catch the debris or get rid of the old satellites. We’re talking about an international agreement which will charge operators orbital-use fees for every satellite they put into Space.
These fees would actually increase the long-run value of the industry of Space. If they release the satellites and increase collision risk, then the fee per year, which can get up to $235,000 per satellite, will raise the value of the satellite industry by 2040.
Matthew Burgess, assistant professor in Environmental Studies, stated: “Space is a common resource, but companies aren’t accounting for the cost their satellites impose on other operators when they decide whether or not to launch. We need a policy that lets satellite operators directly factor in the costs their launches impose on other operators.”
Right now, there are about 20,000 objects in the low-Earth orbit, including satellites and space debris. Every operator launches more and more satellites until we get into a scenario where the collision risk actually equals the value of the orbiting satellite.
Do they have a solution for these problems?
People have come with solutions, and they have technological solutions. These fixes include removing space debris from the orbit with harpoons, lasers, or nets. They even talked about deorbiting a satellite. But these fixes won’t actually do anything to solve the debris problem, because they don’t change what the operators will do. By getting rid of the old satellites, it might actually make operators launch even more satellites, which will crowd the low-Earth orbit and will increase the risk of collision.