Why we need to get serious about solving the space junk problem

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Space junk concept. Toxic garbage in the space over Earth

Petrovich9/Getty Images/iStockphoto

ALL eyes are on the COP26 climate summit, which starts in Glasgow, UK, on Sunday. But amid the “anarchy”, in the words of former UK climate minister Ed Miliband, of the hot phase of negotiations , in quieter moments, we might cast our thoughts to a problem fast brewing further skywards.

In mid 2019, there were 2000 satellites in orbit. That number has now doubled in two years, spurred on by the ambitions of private communications companies. A third of all satellites belong to just one swarm: Starlink, operated by SpaceX.

Satellites aren’t bad per se, of course. They are …

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