Artemis – the future manned mission on the Moon is endangered by the garbage left in space. NASA’s new space accord is requesting an international cohesion.

After years of impetus seconded by endless adjournment, Artemis is finally walking the line to Moon landing people once again.

The mission of Artemis

The Artemis Program is an international mission programmed to be launched in 2014. Together with NASA, space agencies all over the world are joining efforts to send the first female and the next male on the Moon.

The European Space Agency, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, the Canadian Space Agency, and the Australian Space Agency are part of Artemis.

The Artemis agreement

This is one of the main reasons that determined NASA to rewrite the space accord after 53 years. The former called the Outer Space Treaty was issued in 1967 by the United Nations. But history, politics, and technology were very different than they are today. The principles have changed for the better.

This is why the new accord is inviting all nations to collaborate. All nations that have the technology to help Artemis be a success are asked to sign the new  Artemis-accords that promote peaceful purposes, transparency, interoperability, emergency assistance, registration of space objects, the release of scientific data, protecting heritage, the utilization of space resources, deconfliction of activities, and the management of orbital debris and spacecraft disposal.

What about the debris?

After fifty years of flying missions, sending rovers, settling observatories and satellites, or launching rockets, the space around Earth became crowded with artificial objects that make successful missions such as Artemis harder to be accomplished. Most of those objects are space garbage.

Space garbage is a great danger for any space mission. Especially for a mission such as Artemis. If it fails, there isn’t just a matter of lost money and technology. Human lives are at stake.

The garbage constellation

Earth is surrounded by a dense cloud of objects left behind by active missions as well as failed missions, or expired ones. Since only 2,218 of the 20,000 objects in orbit are operational satellites, and the rest of them are considered waste, it is fair to say that we live in the middle of a cesspool.

And know this: 20.000 was the number reported by the US Space Surveillance Network in October 2019, and they are only the objects big enough to be traced. In January 2019, more than 34,000 pieces with dimensions bigger than 10 centimeters were estimated to populate the cesspool. Besides them, there are about 900,000 pieces smaller than 10 centimeters, and over 128 million that are smaller than 1 centimeter.

This is why Artemis need all the help it can get

Can you imagine how Earth’s orbit looks like? It can compete with Saturn’s planetary disks. The worst thing is that they continue to multiply. Every object there can become multiple objects by the second. They collide with each other and they break into several pieces. It’s like a virus division.

They can also move. They sometimes land on Earth, just like meteors do. There are scientists called “space janitors” that are trying to keep us and space missions safe by changing the debris orbits. The pieces of debris that can be tracked, anyway. Because, the smaller they are, the more difficult they are to be tracked.

Space isn’t what it used to be when Apollo missions were writing history. Back then, space was an endless open space, and every country was free to fly whatever missions they want. Today, space has changed. It is still endless, but not as much open as it used to be.

Iulia Lumanare
Iulia Lumanare is an actress and a screenwriter working on the role of a journalist. Writing and playing at the same time.