The Space Station will not be moved out of orbit after all due to space debris. The Russian space program’s Mission Control Center had announced that it will move the International Space Station into a different orbit to avoid possible collision with space junk. We just discussed debris in space in my legal theory class as an example of Garrett Hardin’s Tragedy of the Commons. The debris has passed, but the potential crisis highlights the increasing problem with space junk.
We have previously discussed how the United States, Russia, China, India and other countries have destroyed much of the very resource that sustains them by dumping space junk in space. As seen at right, even a small piece of debris can go through a space vehicle or destroy a billion dollar satellite.
NASA estimates that there are more than 21,000 fragments of orbital debris larger than 10 centimeters (3.9 inches) that are locked in earth’s orbit. The debris has caused serious problems in the placing of new satellites and we recently had some near misses in space. In one case, astronauts had to go into the escape capsule to prepare for a possible collision. NASA tracks the debris: