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Infographic – Earth Orbits Getting More Crowded

Chart: Increasing space junk24 Sept. 2022. Space may be the next frontier, but it’s quickly becoming a place where you won’t be alone. According to a report issued on 15 Sept. from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development or OECD, the amount of debris floating in orbit around the earth has increased markedly in the past two years, and only shows signs of accelerating.

The business research company Statista displays the OECD data in chart form, published on Thursday. The data and chart show in 2021 alone, more satellites were launched into space than in the previous decade. And the increasing density of space junk increases the risk of a phenomenon called Kessler syndrome, where the amount of debris in orbit causes a chain reaction of collisions and even more debris.

Moreover, the rate of new earth-orbit launches is accelerating, with OECD expecting tens of thousands of new satellites launched in the next five years. A major contributor to the crowd is the SpaceX’s Starlink program that plans to launch, in its words, “the world’s first and largest satellite constellation using a low earth orbit to deliver broadband internet.” SpaceX plans to eventually launch thousands of these satellites, with 52 more satellites scheduled for lift-off tonight from Florida.

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