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Experts fear someone could soon be killed by falling satellites every two years, according to new report

Katherine Sidnell

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| Last updated 

Experts fear someone could soon be killed by falling satellites every two years, according to new report

Featured Image Credit: KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP via Getty Images / CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

If you grew up fearing the sky would fall on your head, like Chicken Little, turns out your worst fear might be realised.

US experts fear that someone could be injured or even killed by falling satellites every two years, as they hurtle back to Earth.

Whilst we aren’t at this critical point just yet, a report suggests that the unusual death could become a regular occurrence in the not-too-distant future. (Eek!)

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Experts fear a person could be killed every two years by falling space debris. Credit: Pexels/SpaceX
Experts fear a person could be killed every two years by falling space debris. Credit: Pexels/SpaceX

Though it sounds like sci-fiction, the worrying prediction comes from the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) – with the agency becoming concerned about the increasing number of satellites.

The US organisation now estimates that 28,000 pieces of space debris could fall to Earth every year by 2035, especially if projects like SpaceX’s Starlink system stay on target.

Unsurprisingly, the odds of you surviving this sudden impact aren’t great either.

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According to the FAA, the chance of someone not being injured or killed would be 0.6 per year – meaning it would happen once every two years. (Cheery!)

In a warning that sounds like it belongs in a bad B-movie, the agency has also expressed its concerns about how this could impact aeroplanes.

Whilst it’s not likely to put your holiday premiums up, the FAA still fear that there is a 0.0007 chance of a plane being downed by a satellite per year by 2035.

Their estimation comes amid concerns about the growing number of satellites and space junk, with that number set to rapidly rise over the next decade.

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With countries and private firms eager to launch their space internet systems, falling satellites could become a very real threat.

The agency also have concerns about airplanes being affected. Credit: Pexels/SpaceX
The agency also have concerns about airplanes being affected. Credit: Pexels/SpaceX

Currently, China is looking to launch a constellation of 13,000 satellites as they finalise their Guowang network.

Meanwhile, SpaceX has already sent 5,000 satellites towards the stars and hopes to rapidly increase that number over the next decade with its Starlink system.

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After the report was released, a principal engineer at the tech firm hit out at the ‘deeply flawed analysis’.

In a letter, David Goldstein told Space News that the satellites burned up upon entering the atmosphere after reaching the end of their life cycle.

He wrote: “To be clear, SpaceX’s satellites are designed and built to fully demise during atmospheric re-entry during disposal at end of life, and they do so [emphasis in original]…”

“Extensive engineering analysis and real-world operational experience verify this basic fact,” added the Elon Musk employee.

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Whilst being hit by a satellite is still extremely unlikely, it’s definitely unlocked a new fear for us.

Topics: Technology, Space, SpaceX, US News, Science, World News

Katherine Sidnell
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