Collision :: Blog today

The news was beaten this morning by the agencies: China reports yet another near-collision in space. At the end of last year, the government pointed the finger at Starlink satellites – and therefore Elon Musk – guilty of having endangered the Tiangong station, launched into orbit nine months ago. This time, the accusations come from the National Space Administration of China (CNSA) and are directed at Russia, held responsible for a “close encounter” between the scientific satellite Tsingshua and the debris of Cosmos 1408, destroyed in November during the scheduled test. of an anti-satellite weapon. Debris and satellite would have “touched” on Tuesday, approaching the distance of only 14.5 meters, infinitesimal if we consider the relative speed of 5.27 kilometers per second, equal to 18,972 km / h.

The alarm has disappeared and the responsibilities are quite clear, since according to a 1967 treaty on outer space, very dated to be sure, but which remains the foundation of international space law, each State is the owner, and therefore responsible, for the objects launched into the Cosmos, even reduced to crumbs. At the same time, there is no system of sanctions effectively sanctioning damage caused by debris.

The episode is closely linked to that of November 15, when the remains of a Soviet satellite destroyed by a Russian missile endangered the International Space Station (ISS), forcing the crew to take refuge in two spacecraft in collision case. forced to return to Earth immediately.

The cinema had said it (several times)

Such episodes are not new (although it is often difficult or even impossible to attribute the paternity of the debris) and according to the European Space Agency (ESA) they will be increasingly frequent. After all, the “galactic trash” has long been a reality. What’s amazing, again, is the involuntary ability – or maybe not, who can tell? – cinema to anticipate the times or predict the future.

Indeed, the most attentive cinephiles and cinephiles will not have missed a sensational analogy between these episodes and “Gravity”, a film by Mexican director Alfonso Cuarón, with Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. For those who have not seen it, the famous film recounts the actions of a near-retirement astronaut and a biomedical engineer. During a walk outside the shuttle, they are warned that a Russian missile has hit a decommissioned satellite, the resulting explosion causing a chain reaction that destroys other satellites and thus creates a wave of debris moving at a very high level. speed. Everything was already written, one might say.

The world of cinema, and in particular of science fiction, is not new to inventing situations and episodes likely to take shape ten, twenty or thirty years later. Sensational episodes, if we consider the frequency with which the details coincide and not only the more general situations. For example, it reminds me of the 1950 film “Destination Moon”, where the protagonist is a scientist who recruits private investors to finance a trip to the Moon. The spirit goes to the 2004 venture of Mike Melvill, the first “commercial” astronaut in history and, only a few months ago, the beginnings of space tourism, inaugurated by Mr. Virgin, Richard Branson, then followed up close by Jeff Bezos. and Elon Musk.

Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner”, along the same lines, made history. For example, he predicted the “vertical flight”, the one that will become reality in a few years in many Italian cities with aero-taxis; prophesied the retinal scan – does the iris scan of smartphones mean anything to you? – and the birth of organisms by exploiting artificial DNA.

The times are not yet ripe, but even The Martian (Survivor), a film once again signed Ridley Scott, could, in its own way, find confirmation. If in the film an astronaut (played by Matt Damon) is left on Mars, where he must learn to survive, the same could be done by the astronauts – the real ones – from 2030, when, at least according to the multi- plan of the year, the could walk on the red planet.

About Jimmie P. Ricks

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