Uncontrolled rockets pose unnecessary risk, study finds

BEIJING, CHINA – MAY 02: China’s space station core module ‘Tianhe’ flies over the Bell Tower on May 2nd, 2021, in Beijing, China. A Long March 5B rocket carrying the core module of China’s space station blasted off from the Wenchang Space Launch Center on April 29th. | Photo by Lu Lin / VCG via Getty Images

What are the odds a free-falling rocket will kill one person somewhere in the world? There’s about a 10 percent chance over the next decade if current practices in the space industry stay the same, according to the authors of a new paper published in the journal Nature Astronomy.

While that’s not a huge risk, the threat is significantly bigger in some parts of the world than in others. In particular, many countries in the Global South are likely to deal with a larger share of space trash even though they’re not responsible for it, according to the analysis. And it could become a bigger issue as rockets launch into space more frequently to ferry up a growing number of satellites.

The threat is significantly bigger in some parts of the…

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