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Slate's Explainer: Disposing of Spent Satellites

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Slate's Explainer: Disposing of Spent Satellites

Space

Slate's Explainer: Disposing of Spent Satellites

Slate's Explainer: Disposing of Spent Satellites

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/4623208/4623209" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Slate contributor Daniel Engber explains how the federal government disposes of satellites when they are no longer in operation. Space agencies track some 13,000 objects orbiting the Earth, many of them dead satellites or space debris. Sometimes, the satellites are sent into a higher orbit, away from active satellites — but often spent satellites burn up re-entering the atmosphere.