Bigger risk of being killed by falling space rocket (14th July, 2022)

Have you ever worried about debris from a falling rocket hitting you on the head? That scenario has never been high on the list of life’s worries. The chances of a piece of space junk hitting us were almost zero. However, that is changing. Scientists say there is a growing likelihood that rocket parts falling back to Earth could hit and kill someone in the next ten years. This is because more countries are sending more rockets into space. Scientists say space is becoming congested. They are calling on nations and companies that send rockets into space to be more responsible. They want them to control the reentry of any rocket parts floating in the lower atmosphere.

Scientists in Canada did research on the number of rockets launched into space, and the risk of people being hit by falling debris. There were 133 rocket launches in 2021. That was a record. It looks like that record will be broken this year. The scientists said more than 60 per cent of rockets are abandoned in space after they release their satellites. The abandoned spacecraft can circle the earth for years before they fall back down. A key finding of the research is that rocket parts are more likely to hit somewhere (or someone) in the Global South. However, most rockets are launched from the Global North. The scientists say countries and companies are “exporting risk to the rest of the world”.