Dear Commons Community,
It seems like every few months we hear about another decommissioned satellite getting ready to leave its orbit and come crashing usually in bits and pieces to Earth. This time it is a 2.69-ton German ROSAT satellite that was launched in 1990 and retired in 1999. The largest single fragment of ROSAT that could hit the earth is the telescope’s heat-resistant mirror. Scientists who have worked on ROSAT believe that it will not hit over Europe, Africa or Australia which leaves a pretty large chunk of the rest of the world. The chances of a person being hit by a ROSAT fragment is about 2,000 to 1.
It seems to me that if we have the technology to launch and put a satellite into orbit for ten years, we should have the technology to gracefully make it go someplace else rather than crash on Earth.