February 26, 2024

Are you afraid of space?

If you are, don’t be – your fear is entirely caused by the space industry being terrible at selling itself. and a lack of regulation on “space junk”.

These are the conclusions from a new report titled What is the value of space on Earth? From the satellite company Inmarsat, which asked 20,000 people around the world about their perceptions and feelings of what is happening in space.

The results were stark, revealing that:

  • 97% of people globally see space as a threat.
  • One in nine people are terrified of what might happen in space.
  • Space junk, orbital collisions (47 percent), pollution (39 percent) and damage to Earth’s atmosphere (35 percent) are seen as the biggest threats.
  • Generation Z is more likely to associate space with aliens, Star Wars, and billionaires like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos than the older generations – the latter being more optimistic about space.

“This report should be a wake-up call for our industry,” said Rajiv Suri, CEO of Inmarsat. “Space seems to be underappreciated and misunderstood in the real world. In many respects, the knowledge we have as a society is imprecise and incomplete.”

While news stories are obsessed with satellite debris, falling asteroids and environmental damage, the other side of the story is not being told.

One of the most alarming findings was that 36% of respondents said they did not consider communication satellites necessary. “People may not realize how the voice and the data they rely on is coming from the satellites,” said Scott Kelly, a retired NASA astronaut. The way they move around in their cars, planes, etc. depends on space technologies. Even when using an ATM, the timing signal comes from a GPS satellite. If we remove this technology, people will notice it very quickly.”

How do we know so many details about the damage done to our planet by humans? And the spread of drought and forest fires?

Satellite, that’s how.

However, with nearly 10,000 tons of satellites and rockets currently in Earth orbit – and an estimated 130 million pieces of space debris – Suri has also called for Exploring space in a responsible manner and more stringent regulation on huge towers.

Fear of space seems partly a Western phenomenon. Nearly half of respondents in China believe that space can provide a new source of essential resources versus a third globally. Survey respondents in South Korea and the UAE were similarly positive.

“Space can provide a better way of living for everyone on Earth, but public support will make or break this vital contribution to a better future,” Suri said. “Space needs a new narrative, and it is time for us to determine its value to the world… Having come so far, we cannot afford to destroy the gift of space through mismanagement, fear, ignorance, or inaction.”

I wish you a clear sky and wide eyes.

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