As launch costs fall, access to space has become much less expensive. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, the number of satellites in Earth orbit is currently is projected to be 3,373 by the end of the year. When will the number of satellites in Earth orbit exceed 5,000?
When will the number of functional artificial satellites in orbit exceed 5,000?
This question will close on the date that the UCSUSA publishes a database listing more than 5000 satellites in orbit which were launched before the present time.
The question will resolve to the day of the launch of the spacecraft which contains the 5001st satellite.
In the case that the Union of Concerned Scientists website ceases to publish its database, the question will be closed and will resolve ambiguously.
Satellite launch times are UTC.
The UCSUSA database includes satellites which are predicted to launch, so it is necessary to specify that these launches must have actually occurred in order to be relevant.
Satellites are counted by their number of design components, so a satellite which breaks apart in orbit only counts as one object unless the breakup was a maneuver planned at satellite launch. A booster stage which remains in orbit would
Satellites must be artificial objects in Earth orbit.