The Space Roomba

This episode we take on a future where space junk has gotten so bad, that active spacecraft are constantly having to maneuver around it, which wastes fuel and cuts down on operation time. And humans decide to finally do something about it. But what?

Loren Grush, science reporter at The Verge
Lisa Ruth Rand, historian of science technology and the environment.
Tiago Soares, systems engineer for ESA’s Clean Space program
Andrew Wolahan, systems engineer for ESA’s e.deorbit program
Alice Gorman, space archaeologist at Flinders University 
Jill Stuart, space policy & law expert at the London School of Economics

Further Reading:
Tracking Space Junk
How can humans clean up our space junk?
The Space Junk Problem is About to get a Whole Lots Gnarlier
Orbital Decay: Space Junk and the Environmental History of Earth’s Planetary Borderlands
The Forgotten Cold War Plan That Put A Ring Of Copper Around The Earth
Project West Ford, NASA Repository
Japanese mission to clear up space junk ends in failure
This is what happens when a tiny piece of flying space debris hits the ISS
ESA Envisat
ESA Clean Space
ESA e.deorbit
Space Age Archaeology
What is Space Archaeology?
The Outer Space Treaty has been remarkably successful – but is it fit for the modern age?

Flash Forward is produced by me, Rose Eveleth. The intro music is by Asura and the outtro music is by Hussalonia. The space dispatcher from the top of the episode was played by Andrew Hackard. The episode art is by Matt Lubchansky. If you want to suggest a future we should take on, send us a note on Twitter, Facebook or by email at And if you think you’ve spotted one of the little references I’ve hidden in the episode, email us there too. If you’re right, I’ll send you something cool. 

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