Why can’t we launch garbage into space?
Humans produce huge amounts of garbage every day, in every country, all around the world. There is an estimation that the United States alone produces around 208 metric tons of garbage on a daily basis. That’s a lot of trash. We are experiencing problems in what to do with all of this trash. Some recycling programs take care of part of it, but there is still a lot of garbage to deal with. The more garbage that we have, the more it pollutes the planet. So why not just launch it into space? Maybe shoot it to the sun where it could burn up?
There are a couple of problems with the idea of launching garbage into space. The first would be that we would have to make sure that it was launched directly into the sun, otherwise, it would end up in the earth’s outer atmosphere. Due to the many space missions by many countries, we already have garbage floating around in space that we don’t know what to do with. The amount of space trash has become so much that it is currently causing problems with the various satellites and potential hazards to the International Space Station. The trash is moving at such incredible speeds that it could do damage to any of the astronauts during a spacewalk or punch holes in the technology and machinery. The problem is so severe that there is a U.S. agency called the Space Surveillance Network (SSN) that is responsible for ‘tracking’ the space debris to change the direction of satellites or warn of a near collision. Some of this space trash is so low that it can actually re-enter earth’s atmosphere. While most of it will get burned up, the largest pieces could crash into the earth and cause major damage.
So let’s assume that we know we want to send the garbage directly into the sun. We have to take a look at what it would cost. At the current rates, there is an estimation that it would cost about $22,000 per kg. Even if we could develop technologies to help bring the price down ten times, it would still cost thousands of dollars to launch it. If we could reduce the price to $1,000 per kg that would equal one twentieth of the cost to launch it in a space shuttle. This would still cost around $208 trillion each day.
Another thing to consider would be what might happen if there was an accident and the garbage didn’t actually get to the sun. We would have earth trash littering the various outer areas of space and floating into the universe. Polluting the universe in the same way that we are polluting the earth.
The best answer for the best way to get rid of all of the trash that humans create is to increase recycling efforts as well as reusing materials that would have been trash and forming them into new items. Many countries have established new ways to recycle and reuse and this will take a change in the way we buy things, knowing that we need to reduce the amount of garbage.