Space debris, an increasingly pressing threat

DECRYPTION – These fragments present an increasing danger for future missions in space.

Once he sets foot in the International Space Station (ISS), Thomas Pesquet will have completed one of the most dangerous parts of his mission. But the six months he is about to spend at the station are not without risk: according to work by American physicist and astronaut Edward Lu published in 2019, an astronaut has a one in 200 chance of leaving his life there. of the ISS. And in the next ten years, there is a one in 60 chance that one of the residents will perish.

The fault in particular with the risk of collision. Because even if space remains a relatively low-traffic environment, hundreds of thousands of objects larger than 1 cm orbit the planet at more than 30,000 km / h. If one of them hits the ISS, “For an object of 1 cm, the collision is equivalent to a shock with a Laguna launched at 130 km / h”, explains Christophe Bonnal, researcher at CNES, president of the space debris commission at the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) and author of Space pollution

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