Space Junk: The French Factor
Much of the French debris can be traced to an accident in 1996, when a military satellite collided with a spent French rocket.
October 6, 2015
1. France by itself is the fourth-biggest contributor to “space junk” including spent rockets, retired satellites and fragments from old missions – all of which can damage or destroy satellites and the international space station.
2. France distantly trails the top three, the former USSR, the US and China.
3. Just over 500 cataloged objects are attributable to France alone, representing just 3% of the total number in orbit.
4. Much of this French debris can be traced to a single event, in 1986, when a spent French rocket stage broke into at least 465 pieces.
5. In 1965, France became the third country, after the Soviet Union and the United States, to launch its own satellite into space.
6. Today, France is an integral part of the European Space Agency (ESA), based in Paris.
7. ESA, as an agency, is responsible for fewer than 100 debris items, or barely 0.5%.
Sources: The Globalist Research Center, United States Space Surveillance Network, NASA, Secure World Foundation, BBC
Correction: An earlier version of this quiz mistakenly substituted a smaller 1996 accident for an earlier 1986 accident, which had much larger effects.
France is the 4th biggest contributor to “space junk” including spent rockets and retired satellites.
Over 500 cataloged objects in the orbit are attributable to France, which is 3% of the total number.
France was the third country, after Soviet Union and US, to launch its own satellite into space.