NASA reveals new plan to tackle space junk orbiting Earth and beyond | Space

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NASA unveiled a new strategy this week to tackle the growing problem of space debris in Earth orbit, which includes appointing a new leadership position to oversee the agency’s space sustainability plan.

Similar to sustainable practices on Earth, NASA is treating low-Earth orbit, the Moon and other celestial bodies as places that should be protected. According to NASA, space sustainability is the ability to continue space activities safely, peacefully, and responsibly while preserving the outer space environment.

The agency revealed the first part of its Space Sustainability Strategy on Tuesday, announcing it would appoint a new director of space sustainability to coordinate these efforts across NASA.

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With the growing commercial space industry and other nations expanding their space programs, low-Earth orbit is becoming increasingly crowded with active and defunct satellites and rocket parts.

“These capabilities include increased low Earth orbit satellite activity and plans for the use of satellite constellations, autonomous spacecraft, and commercial space destinations,” NASA wrote. “However, this increased activity also has generated challenges, such as an operating environment more crowded with spacecraft and increased debris. Understanding the risks and benefits associated with this growth is crucial for space sustainability.”

The agency laid out goals for space sustainability, including prioritizing efficient ways to reduce uncertainties about orbital debris, or space junk, in low Earth…

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