Outer Space's Gravest Hits


Devastating space junk collisions are becoming more and more frequent, and that’s bad news for owners of the $18 billion worth of commercial satellites, not to mention other spacecraft, currently orbiting the Earth. (Astronauts haven’t been hit by space junk, but that danger is real, too. In fact, a September 2009 spacewalk was almost scrubbed when NASA feared that orbiting rocket scrap would pass too close to the International Space Station.) At the International Interdisciplinary Congress on Space Debris, hosted by the McGill Institute of Air and Space Law in May 2009, David Wright from the Union of Concerned Scientists (a global non-profit organization born out of collaboration between MIT students and faculty), recounted some of the biggest bangs in the increasing trend of cosmic collisions: