“We’ll go back in time”

Space is full of satellites, but it’s also full of debris. With thousands more launches planned in the coming years, space could become overcrowded. With all its consequences. “Soon there will be so many rubble that we can’t shoot anything anymore, and then turn back in time,” journalist Marjoleen van Heemstra says in Op1 on NPO 1:

Man is highly dependent on all the satellites that orbit the Earth. There is now a lot floating around and it’s “very busy around the floor,” Hemstra says. “And tens of thousands of satellites will be launched in the coming years.” The reason behind this is that “the space barons want to give the whole world the Internet very quickly,” Hemstra points out to entrepreneur Elon Musk.

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Hemstra thinks it’s a great idea, but at the same time she wonders if every inhabitant on Earth should have high-speed internet every day and night. Problems in space are piling up with more and more debris floating in space. “Some things are sinking and burning up in the atmosphere, but the crowds are growing exponentially.”

Kessler syndrome

According to Hemstra, one of the reasons space is filled with debris is that “space belongs to no one, and therefore everyone.” This was stated in the Outer Space Treaty. “But it’s from 1967 and it wasn’t actually made to commercialize space travel.” In other words: “All the problems and questions that are now there are not answered in it,” says Hemstra.

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One of the problems the journalist points out are the collisions. She cites Kessler syndrome. “So you have a satellite colliding. This causes space debris to collide as well. That way you get more rubble and even more rubble.”

At a certain point there is so much pain that we “can’t release it anymore”. When that time comes is still unknown, but when it does, “we’re stuck in a shell of trash and you’re going back in time.” Hemstra means by this, because it is no longer possible to launch, one loses the connection to the satellite, among other things. “If there is no more internet, you lose your mobility.” Weather forecasts are also becoming difficult. “Very crucial,” Hemstra says. Especially now that climate change is on the increase.


Space agencies are busy cleaning up, but the problem isn’t easy to solve. Certainly not because there is a lot of money to be made in the space. Since space is so important, Hemstra wonders why there is no discussion about his design. “The entire infrastructure is now defined by a few men. It’s ridiculous. It’s the last area that belongs to everyone and it’s completely full.”

Read also: Andre Kuipers defends a European space station

Written by: Vic Ten Wolde

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