While it is only a matter of time to deplete the earth’s resources and make the earth uninhabitable, humanity has its eyes on space, new space and resources on new planets more than ever before. Of course, under the leadership of rich countries and billionaires…
The space adventure that started in the 1950s has two critical points for humanity. The first is the matter of cosmic garbage created by thousands of satellites sent into space. The second is the issue of possible new living spaces in space and the fair use and ownership of the resources there on behalf of all humanity.
Nearly half of the 195 countries have at least one satellite in earth orbit. According to the European Space Agency (ESA), as of June 2023, 15,760 satellites have been placed in orbit since 1957, when the space age began. More than half of them are inactive. Turkey still has 8 active satellites, 5 of which are communication and 3 are observation.
Extending from the top of the Earth’s atmosphere to an altitude of 2,000 km, the Low Earth Orbit (LEO) is the most congested region. There are at least 13,000 pieces of known debris in LEO. They consist of hundreds of different types of junk, from rocket parts to discarded camera covers. And this scattered mass of garbage orbits at great speed (about five times the speed of a bullet) like a rogue mine. At this rate, even a small screw can provide the explosive effect of a grenade, creating new clouds of debris consisting of tens of thousands of pieces, each of which could shatter another satellite.
On the one hand, the size of this garbage heap is increasing, on the other hand, new ones are constantly being sent into orbit.
Elon Musk’s SpaceX-Starlink project is the highest-profile example. As of June 2023, Starlink has the largest number of satellites in orbit, with over 4,000 satellites.
This number is constantly increasing. Companies like OneWeb are launching their own constellations, and Amazon plans to do the same with Project Kuiper. If all goes as planned, more satellites will be launched into the blue sky in the next 10 years than ever before.
Frankly, with this dramatic increase in the number of satellites, the space junk issue is far from sustainable. While the world is discussing how and with what money and method the orbiting debris will be removed, a different planning and design approach needs to be engaged for future satellites.
Who does the moon belong to?
The second critical issue is the issue of establishing new habitats in space and accessing new resources…
Earth’s moon, for example, is currently the most popular real estate area in the solar system.
There’s a race at the moon’s south pole to where ice-formed water lies in shadowy craters. Access to this ice is vital to human habitation. Not only is water key to sustaining life, but also because the hydrogen and oxygen that make up it can be used as rocket fuel, potentially turning the moon into a gas station in space. The moon can thus become a springboard for humanity to other parts of the solar system.
Battle for space in space!
America, China, Russia, India and Japan are the most assertive and ambitious countries in this race.
China has been running a steady and largely successful lunar campaign in recent years. In 2019, it became the first country to land a spacecraft on the far side of the moon. It also established a space station in low Earth orbit and landed a rover on Mars.
And of course, NASA is also assertive in this race. Intuitive Machines, working for NASA, moved the landing site to the south pole this year. In addition, NASA signed billion-dollar contracts with Musk’s SpaceX and Bezos’s Blue Origin companies to develop spacecraft that can land astronauts on the moon.
So, do you know who got ahead first in this race? India.
India became the first country to successfully land a spacecraft near the south pole of the moon with just a little budget of 75m USD.
India’s successful landing came just days after Russia’s Luna-25 spacecraft, the first lunar mission to also target the south pole in 47 years, went out of control and crashed.
What will happen next?
Of course, countries’ space wars will continue. But aside from the high billion dollar investment side of the matter, the most critical issue is the fair, transparent and peaceful use of space and its resources for all humanity.
NASA and the U.S. State Department created a program called the Artemis Accords, a legal framework that establishes rules for the peaceful use of space and governs behavior on the lunar surface. So far, nearly 30 countries have signed up to a set of rules that include publicly sharing scientific discoveries and creating “safe zones” where nations can operate undisturbed on the lunar surface. Lastly, India joined the program. But Russia and China did not sign this protocol.
If we look at the situation that these countries, which announce their space explorations with the cries of ‘on behalf of all humanity’, have brought to societies on Earth in terms of justice, equality and income gap, it would only be a very optimistic perspective to say that their goals are inclusive and focused on total benefit.
As those seeking alternative places to the 4.5 billion-year-old planet with apocalyptic climate scenarios and environmental disasters turn their faces to the sky and space, both the increasing entrenchment of the problems here and the new problems created by new searches will create tragic spirals.
While the entire space adventure turns into a billion-dollar life jacket for an elite group or society, the rest will look at the sky and make a wish to survive when they see a shooting star…