Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell, other senators propose bill to reduce orbiting space junk

Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell and several other U.S. senators have introduced a bill to help remove space junk that’s orbiting the earth.

The newly proposed bipartisan bill, the Orbital Sustainability (ORBITS) Act, is the first of its kind, and would thin out thousands and thousands of pieces of space trash that currently threaten space exploration, scientific research missions and impending commercial space services.

“There are more than 900,000 pieces of space junk passing over our heads every day, including abandoned government satellites,” said Cantwell. “This bill will jumpstart the technology development needed to remove the most dangerous junk before it knocks out a satellite, crashes into a NASA mission or falls to the ground and hurts someone. We must continue to explore space, and we have to do it safely.”

According to a release from Cantwell, a large piece of space debris crashed onto a Grant County, Washington, farmer’s property in March 2021.

The newly proposed program would focus on research, development and other technologies suited for Active Debris Removal missions and also jumpstart a new market for such services.

Washington companies like Starfish Space are pressing for the removal of space debris. Other Washington companies that are campaigning for the removal of space junk include SpaceX, Amazon’s Kuiper Systems and Stoke Space Technologies.

Officials said there are approximately 8,000 metric tons of debris in orbit.

For more details on the bill, click here.