Space risks: A new generation of challenges

Since the beginnings of space endeavors in 1957, mankind has been leaving behind a trail of debris orbiting Earth. Risks to satellites and other space exploration equipment are continuously increasing due to the large amount of debris that has accumulated in more than 50 years of human space activity.

Today, the amount of space debris has reached a critical mass and threatens the missions of satellites used for telecommunications and Earth observation. Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty takes a closer look at this issue in its white paper publication Space Risks: A new generation of challenges. AGCS's expert team on space risks explores the many challenges satellites face in the harsh space environment and how the insurance industry is a key enabler of the space industry and its activities.

Just how important is the issue of space debris to daily life? Considering mankind's dependency on technology, the hundreds of active satellites that enable telecommunications should grab the attention of more than a few. These, as well as Earth observation satellites, are directly in harm's way. The exorbitant amount of space debris orbiting Earth today is threatening satellite missions. Even the smallest of debris fragments has the potential to disrupt operations and severely damage satellites worth millions of dollars.

The situation is grim, though space technology companies are working on solutions to remove debris and to deorbit non-operative satellites. Such space 'cleaning' endeavors are costly and not without risk. The insurance industry will play a major role in these undertakings, while continuing to provide expertise and support for satellite operations and missions.

Due to new information regarding satellite studies, an updated version of the report was published in August 2012.

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