Inerrant Rampancy

Just another weblog

We Have Nothing to Fear


That’s right, today we add Space Junk to the list of things that are scaring the hell out of us, right after Socialism and Terrorists. reports that a five inch piece of a satellite launching mechanism narrowly missed the International Space Station, prompting astronauts inside to take refuge in an escape capsule (full story here).

How dangerous is a five inch piece of metal to the ISS, whose mass is nearly 400 tons? Very, if you consider that the piece was moving at nearly 5.5 miles per second, or 20,000 miles per hour. That’s fast, and deadly had it actually struck the station, causing a fatal loss of cabin pressure (“In the event of space-cabin depressurization, you will be sucked into the unbearable vacuum of space, where you will explode long before you suffocate”).

This gets me thinking, What’s all this junk doing up there? There are maps of Earth orbit showing the numerous (over 600,000!) objects simply floating around, tiny little space potholes waiting to knock a Challenger mission back to Florida, and yet we keep launching things into space without any concern over what happens to them once they’ve served their purpose. Most of it seems to be the product of Chinese, Russian, and US activity (space missiles and shuttle launches), and no country seems content to quit sending things into the great unknown, so the collection of junk will continue to grow, possibly exponentially as technology makes launches easier.

With all this metal junk floating around, the conclusion seems inevitable: Space Pirates. Yep, the last frontier is the new briny deep, and it’s only a matter of time (let’s say 200 years?) before all that metal is a precious commodity, enticing scavengers from all nations to scour Near-Earth for booty. Space booty. I, for one, welcome this phase of space exploration, knowing that it will bring with it the creation of the Space Ninja, and the Space Cowboy, ultimately making the world of Firefly a reality.

Space collisions aside, I could not be happier.


March 12, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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