Opinion

Space Oddities: We Need a Plan to Stop Polluting Space Before It’s Too Late

By Amy Webb

amy webb

We must learn to be better stewards of our own planet—and commit to very long-term thinking—before we try to colonize any others.

There is a lot of junk floating out in space, and it’s a problem we’ve been talking about, in fits and spurts, since the 1960s.

Space junk was the topic of my middle school futurists' society challenge. That year, three friends and I mapped the probable timeline and implications of all the broken bits of dead spacecraft and orbital clutter, writing scenarios about how all that garbage would eventually make it difficult to launch new satellites. Our solution: an enormous net, connected to an Earth-based, rocket-powered launching and landing system.

Space junk was the debate topic my senior year of high school, and my teammates spent the year mapping out arguments for all the ways errant satellites could cause space agency turmoil, political unrest, and human casualties. As a sophomore in college, it was part of my environmental politics class. I wrote a thesis on it. A decade later, when I was living in Japan, a Chinese satellite collided with a NASA rocket. The news, and the junk, seemed to be everywhere, following me throughout life.

Read the full article as published in Wired

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Amy Webb is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Marketing.