Why the risk of orbital collisions is skyrocketing

With each new satellite that reaches orbit, the space above our heads gets a little more congested. There are about 3,000 active satellites in use today, but that number is changing quickly, especially as companies like Starlink send up 60 small satellites in a single launch. Add the 20,000 or so bits of orbital debris that authorities are actively tracking, and the image of a limitless expanse of space above the Earth starts to feel a little different. Moriba Jah is a researcher at the University of Texas at Austin who’s on a mission to make the stakes of orbital congestion abundantly clear. He built a visualizer called AstriaGraph that displays the positions of all actively-tracked objects in the sky. He also designed a real-time graph... Continue reading…

Why the risk of orbital collisions is skyrocketing
Engineer and professor Moriba Jah gestures at a graphical visualizer showing tens of thousands of satellites and space debris in orbit around the Earth

With each new satellite that reaches orbit, the space above our heads gets a little more congested. There are about 3,000 active satellites in use today, but that number is changing quickly, especially as companies like Starlink send up 60 small satellites in a single launch. Add the 20,000 or so bits of orbital debris that authorities are actively tracking, and the image of a limitless expanse of space above the Earth starts to feel a little different.

Moriba Jah is a researcher at the University of Texas at Austin who’s on a mission to make the stakes of orbital congestion abundantly clear. He built a visualizer called AstriaGraph that displays the positions of all actively-tracked objects in the sky. He also designed a real-time graph...

Continue reading…