In January I wrote about the idiocy of China’s anti-satellite missile test, which created thousands of pieces of new space debris. Now, the New York Times is picking up the story. I’m glad someone big in the news industry finally realized the significance of this event, even if it took them a few weeks longer than an amateur spectator. The article includes some quotes from an interview with Donald J. Kessler, whom the Kessler Syndrome is named after. The orbit of the weather satellite that was destroyed is high up, so the debris will continue orbiting for up to millions of years. Nice job, China. The article also points out that the Chinese probably didn’t want to pick a lower target because it would put the International Space Station at risk, but some of the farther-roaming debris from the energetic collision with the satellite are already doing just that.
At least it’s not entirely bad news, though:
If nothing is done, a kind of orbital crisis might ensue that is known as the Kessler Syndrome, after Mr. Kessler. A staple of science fiction, it holds that the space around Earth becomes so riddled with junk that launchings are almost impossible. Vehicles that entered space would quickly be destroyed.
In an interview, Mr. Kessler called the worst-case scenario an exaggeration. “It’s been overdone,” he said of the syndrome.