Astronomy: what is the risk of being hit by falling debris from space?

  • By Fabian Zander
  • BBC Future

image credit, Getty Images

Earlier this year, two separate incidents saw space debris return to Earth in unexpected places.

The uncontrolled re-entry of a Chinese Long March 5B rocket over Malaysia was quickly followed by reports in July that spacecraft parts had been found in the New South Wales area of ​​Australia – now confirmed to be from a SpaceX Crew-1 mission.

As the space industry develops, it can be said that such incidents will become more frequent and that they may pose a risk. But what risk exactly?

Space debris is the remains of components of a space system that are no longer needed. It can be an end-of-life satellite (like the International Space Station when it reaches the end of its operational life in 2031) or parts of a rocket system that have served their purpose and are discarded.

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