By David Wade

BOSTON (CBS) – It looks like the six-ton satellite crashing to Earth will land somewhere in the ocean near Indonesia.

Dolly from Westminster Declared her Curiosity about old satellites, asking:

“When we’re done using something in space, is it just left to float away and cause pollution?”

That’s exactly what is done, making things pretty crowded in space.

But, a local company is working on a new way to keep track of all that junk.

WBZ-TV’s David Wade reports

“It is estimated there’s over 200,000 objects in space,” said Dave Gulla is from Raytheon, where they’re tracking space junk. “The concern is if you had a piece of debris that impacted the international space station, that could be lethal.”

Recently, our astronauts at the space station had to hide in a Russian spacecraft as a piece of space junk whizzed by.

There’s also concern about debris wiping out satellites that give us GPS, ATM’s and satellite TV.

Space junk doesn’t have to be big to be a problem. In fact, a piece of debris the size of a speck of paint can do as much damage to a satellite as a .22 caliber bullet from a rifle.

Unlike litter along our highways, old rocket boosters can’t be thrown in a big trash bag. So, with $107 million from the government, Raytheon is now developing what it calls a “Space Fence.”

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Laurie Kirby reports

A fence is designed to keep things out, but this “Space Fence” is more of a detection system. Raytheon said it can track a piece of debris the size of a softball traveling at 18,000 miles per hour.

“What the Raytheon Space Fence will do is provide you a much earlier warning of that particular threat,” said Gulla.

Raytheon said their invention is far better than what the government uses now, giving satellites and spacecraft more time to thrust out of the way of danger.

The space fence should be ready within five years.

Meanwhile, the amount of junk in space is expected to triple by 2030.


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