Late last year a large research satellite fell back to Earth. At first, NASA didn’t exactly know where it landed. Maybe near Hawaii, maybe in Texas. While this was a worrisome event for some, it might be just a blip on the radar screen so to speak.
But so what? A majority of orbiting debris is very small and that couldn’t create much damage. The National Academy of Science thinks differently. They estimate that a 1kg (2.2 lbs) object travelling at 10 kilometers/second is capable of “catastrophically” destroying a 1,000kg (2200 lbs) spacecraft. This would send out many, many more pieces of debris to collide with other objects.
Imagine a pool table with billiard balls being sent off in different directions when struck by the cue ball. Each one striking other previously stationary balls which then are set moving to strike others; and instead of the bumpers around the table, there are more billiard balls waiting to be struck. It becomes a chain reaction. The Kessler Syndrome predicts this. The rate at which debris is produced can become greater than the rate that debris decays in orbit and falls into the atmosphere.
Two years ago Donald Kessler stated, “Aggressive space activities without adequate
safeguards could significantly shorten the time between collisions and produce an intolerable hazard to future spacecraft . . . Such activities could set up a situation where a single satellite failure could lead to cascading failures of many satellites in a period of time much shorter than years.” No more GPS, no more cell phones, and very few new launches (especially with humans aboard) due to the increased danger.
So what does this have to do with family history? In a literal sense nothing. But figuratively it proves that what we do in our lifetime will affect the lives of our children.
“Undeservedly, you will atone for the sins of your fathers.” Horace