DARMSTADT, Germany — Attendees at the 6th Annual European Conference on Space Debris, held at Germany’s European Space Operations Centre, unanimously passed a resolution blaming the United States of America for the growing pile of space junk orbiting the Earth, which threatens the communications systems of the entire globe. The delegates also officially called upon the US to get off their barcaloungers and do something about it.
“Every day the Americas refuse to go up there and clean up after themselves is one day closer to a stray bolt slamming into a communications satellite and wiping out Game of Thrones for 50 million people,” said conference chairman Heiner Klinkrad of Germany. “Yes, every space-faring nation in the world has contributed to this problem, but when the ring of debris finally blocks out the sun’s rays, bringing death and destruction to us all, it will be entirely America’s fault.”
The conference, which took place the week of April 22-25, addressed the growing phenomenon of man-made debris cluttering up Low Earth Orbit (LEO). According to some estimates, there are over 700,000 objects larger than 1 centimeter and 170 million objects larger than 1 millimeter currently orbiting the Earth. These objects pose a direct threat should they collide with satellites, spaceships, or astronauts.
“When you are up in space, size does not matter,” said former European Space Agency astronaut and conference keynote speaker Reinhold Ewald. “One of those little buggers zipped past me when I was spacewalking outside of Mir in ’97. It was a fleck of paint, but it was going so fast that even though it missed me by several meters the friction of its passing singed the hair off my balls!
“In the fraction of a second before my testicle was scalded and I was scarred for life, I could make out the red, white, and blue colors of American arrogance,” he added.
Due to speeds approaching 56,000 kilometers per hour, a single centimeter-sized object can disable a satellite or spacecraft, and a collision with anything larger than 10 centimeters can be catastrophic.
Conference attendees presented a wide range of proposals intended to de-clutter LEO, from ground-based lasers to janitor satellites to clouds of heavy gas to really big nets, most felt the best solution for everyone would be for America to just deal with it.
Some attendees, however, were skeptical that the declaration would do anything to motivate America. “Let’s be realistic. This is America we’re dealing with,” said Pauline Faure of the Kyushu Institute of Technology in Japan. “They’re great at making a mess, but not so great at cleaning up after themselves. Look at Iraq. Look at Afghanistan. Why should outer space be any different?”