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Infographic – More Low Orbit Satellites in Space

Space satellites chart

(Union of Concerned Scientists, Statista)

8 Feb. 2020. It’s become a cliché to say that space is the next frontier, but as this weekend’s infographic suggests, space may more resemble the wild west. The business data research company Statista published a chart yesterday showing the preponderance of low-earth orbit satellites now in space, far exceeding higher-orbiting space systems.

Numbers for the chart come from a database compiled by Union of Concerned Scientists, an advocacy group in the U.S. As of the end of September 2019, according to UCS, low-earth orbit satellites — those with altitudes of 500 to 2,000 kilometers — account for two-thirds (66%) of the 2,218 systems in flight. Satellites in geostationary orbits, flying 35,000 kilometers above the earth, represent a quarter (25%) of the total.

Many of those low-earth orbit satellites are launched by companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin for high-speed communications services, but they’ve provoked concerns about higher risks of collisions, as well as disruptions to astronomy. The chart also shows the U.S. provides 1,007 or 45 percent of all satellites now in space, followed by China with 323 and Russia with 164.

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