Robert Goddard inaugurated the Space Age when he launched the first liquid-fueled rocket on March 16, 1926 on a hill outside Worcester, Massachusetts. Today the international community needs to match Goddard’s expansive scientific vision with an environmental and ethical perspective that encompasses outer space.
“Unless we take action soon, if there are a number of other collisions, we could be in a situation 10 or 15 years from now where low Earth orbit is just too difficult to maneuver, which would have a dramatic impact on people's daily lives,"
Frank Rose, Deputy assistant secretary of state for space and defense policy, July 2012
Orbital space is a valuable natural resource, serving as home to nearly one thousand satellites owned by forty nations that are essential to communications, forecasting weather, monitoring climate change and fostering sustainable development. It also is home to other spacecraft, such as the International Space Station.
Key orbits are becoming congested with debris, however, a result of the expanded utilization of outer space for scientific, commercial, and military purposes. Larger objects include defunct rocket bodies and satellites, the oldest of which is the Vanguard I satellite launched by the United States in 1958. Smaller objects include stray nuts and bolts, discarded camera lens caps, and paint flecks.
Given the speed of orbital objects, a piece of debris the size of a marble can disable a satellite. According to the National Research Council, the debris problem has reached a tipping point and must be addressed through a combination of technological innovation and diplomacy.
The Campaign promotes education and public advocacy to safeguard the integrity of the outer space environment for future use and exploration. It is sponsored by the Worcester Area Mission Society (WAMS) in Worcester, Massachusetts.
View Dr. David Wright’s presentation on space debris to students at the Goddard School of Science and Technology in Worcester, Massachusetts.
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