January 3, 2016

BW photograph of a long abandoned, rusty, paint can sitting on a rock

Copyright 2016 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

A pattern starts with the first one.

With regard to space junk (or space trash), that would be Sputnik, the first satellite.  Launched in 1957, this (then) Soviet Union satellite was the first of its kind, and a cultural game-changer, as described here.  In the following half-century plus, the amount of debris orbiting the Earth has increased by magnitudes, as described and illustrated, here.  Please do give the video a look as the visual representation provides a greater impact than does the reading of the numbers.  This, by the way, does not describe the amount of stuff humans have now left on other planets.

With that as a backdrop, it is important to note that last month SpaceX successfully landed its rocket booster-a first of its kind.  Elon Musk believes that the reusability of rockets will significantly reduce the cost of space travel, and he makes an interesting comparison between reusable rockets and the airline industry.

It would be interesting to see if this ultimately reduces the amount of space junk as well.  Given that the boosters from the earlier rocket systems apparently were designed to burn-up in the atmosphere, the amount of trash orbiting the planet may not be reduced by this development.  This is pure speculation, but if space travel does become more cost-efficient, and therefore more common, it is likely that the amount of trash left in space will also increase.

BW photograph of a discarded pizza box with napkins strewn into the distance

Copyright 2016 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

BW photograph of a frozen, frosty, water bottle laying in the grass

Copyright 2016 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Just take a look by any roadside.

Hats off, though, to SpaceX for getting this to work.  As one who grew up watching the race to the moon unfold during the decade of the 60s, it was very cool to see video of the descent and landing of the SpaceX booster.

Take care.


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