Flash Forward: The Space Roomba

There are currently millions of pieces of trash orbiting Earth, everything from defunct satellites all the way down to tiny flecks of paint.

Each of those millions of pieces of debris is traveling 17,500 miles per hour as it hurtles through space. At those speeds, a collision with an active satellite or spacecraft can cause serious damage. And experts think that if humans don’t do something about all the junk up there pretty soon, low Earth Orbit could become unusable.

This episode we take on a future where space junk has gotten so bad, that active spacecraft are constantly having to maneuver around it, which wastes fuel and cuts down on operation time. And humans decide to finally do something about it. But what?

Full transcript available in site.


  • Loren Grush, science reporter at The Verge
  • Lisa Ruth Rand, historian of science technology and the environment.
  • Tiago Soares, systems engineer for ESA’s Clean Space program
  • Andrew Wolahan, systems engineer for ESA’s e.deorbit program
  • Alice Gorman, space archaeologist at Flinders University
  • Jill Stuart, space policy & law expert at the London School of Economics

Further Reading:

Science Topics
Astronomy, International Space Station & Research in Space, Pollution
High School
9th Grade, 10th Grade, 11th Grade, 12th Grade, Adults

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