A new study published in Nature Astronomy warns that uncontrolled rocket re-entries pose a significant risk to people living in the Global South.
A team of researchers used data from a public satellite catalogue to calculate the risk that uncontrolled rocket body re-entries have on human life in the next ten years. The researchers found that the Global South is at greater risk when rocket debris falls back to earth.
According to the study, the most at-risk countries are Jakarta, Dhaka, Mexico City, Bogotá and Lagos. Washington, DC, New York, Beijing and Moscow are also at risk, but to a lesser extent.
The study says that the Global South faces a disproportionate risk of injury or death from rocket debris because buildings provide less protection and because many companies and governments choose to abandon rockets in orbit to save money.
According to Dr. Michael Byers, a professor in the University of British Columbia’s department of political science, there are no casualties reported in the last thirty years of collected data on rocket orbits, but there is a disconnect between the advanced technologies being used to create these space missions and the following neglect to how rockets re-enter earth.
Byers, who is now working on the problem of space debris says, this problem can be resolved with political will and current technologies.