Your submission is now in Draft mode.

Once it's ready, please submit your draft for review by our team of Community Moderators. Thank you!

Submit Essay

Once you submit your essay, you can no longer edit it.

Pending

This content now needs to be approved by community moderators.

Submitted

This essay was submitted and is waiting for review.

Will space debris kill an astronaut by 2025?

Question

Space debris is accumulating in earth's orbit, which is a problem because, "due to its very high speed in orbit—even relatively small pieces can damage or destroy satellites in a collision."

As an example, Russia's November 2021 anti-satellite test created over a thousand pieces of debris, a cloud of which came close to the International Space Station, "forcing astronauts to take shelter for hours in a pair of spacecraft capable of returning them to Earth" according to the New York Times.

Evasive manoeuvres can help, but according to NASA, we can track discrete objects >5cm, but debris shields are effective only for objects <1cm. This means there are objects between 1 cm and 5cm that can severely damage human spacecraft, but cannot be tracked.

Space debris could kill humans in three ways. First, space debris could damage human spacecraft and kill one or more of its occupants. Second, re-entering space debris could kill humans on earth. Third, space debris could take out satellites linked to critical infrastructures and thereby cause death on earth via failure of such infrastructure. This question only focuses on the first risk — i.e. astronaut fatalities in space.

Will there be at least one human fatality in space due to space debris by 2025?

This question will resolve positively if a mainstream news source or wire service (AP, New York Times, etc.) report that space debris has killed at least one human by January 1, 2025.

Direct death in space (human-occupied spacecraft) will count towards positive resolution. Direct death on earth from re-entering debris (e.g. hitting someone on the head) will not count. If an astronaut dies on earth from space-debris injuries sustained in space, the question will resolve positively.

Make a Prediction

Prediction

Note: this question resolved before its original close time. All of your predictions came after the resolution, so you did not gain (or lose) any points for it.

Note: this question resolved before its original close time. You earned points up until the question resolution, but not afterwards.

Current points depend on your prediction, the community's prediction, and the result. Your total earned points are averaged over the lifetime of the question, so predict early to get as many points as possible! See the FAQ.