#AskSpace: How much space junk is there actually out there?

#AskSpace: How much space junk is there actually out there?
By Jeremy Wilks
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And the amount of space debris is not the only thing that matters. What can be done with it? Is recycling possible?


Isaac Gutierrez would like to know how much space junk there is out there?

To answer the question, we turned to Luisa Innocenti, head of the Clean Space Office at ESA's headquarters in Paris.

"Since 1957 when we launched Sputnik, we have launched some 5,000 rockets which have delivered around 8,000 satellites," she told Euronews.

"Most of the satellites are dead. They have reached their end of life. Some of them are still operational, only around 1,200. Some satellites have also fragmented and they have created smaller parts, smaller debris, and today we have some 29,000 objects larger than 10 centimetres which are monitored."

Can space junk be recycled?

Ilaria Cinelli got in touch, wondering whether all that space junk out there could be recycled in some way.

"One day we will recycle," was Luisa Innocenti's reponse. 

"On the other hand, we are not there yet. We first need to learn how to capture debris. It's something which has never been done. It's something which is not easy and, once you learn how to capture it, you can also learn how to refuel, change the parts, and all the rest. So it's a stepped approach and, in the meantime, we will also need to decrease the cost of it. And it will be done in the future."

Send your questions about space exploration and science to Euronews via social media using the #AskSpace hashtag, and we'll do our best to answer them.

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