Cleaning up space
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Rob: Hello and welcome to 6 Minute English. I’m Rob and joining me in the studio today is Jennifer. Welcome, Jennifer!
Jennifer: Hi there. Now Rob, I believe our subject for discussion this week is a load of rubbish?!
Rob: I wouldn’t put it exactly like that. We are talking about rubbish – or to use another word – junk – and hearing some language about a subject that is out of this world – space junk.
Jennifer: Yes, here on planet Earth we don’t like seeing rubbish or litter on our streets but in space the problem is far more serious and it could even be catastrophic – so it could lead to a serious disaster.
Rob: Well, we’ll hear more about that in a moment and also find out how scientists are going to clear up this mess. But, before that, I think we should blast off with a space-related question. Now, did you know, the Russian satellite, Sputnik, was the first man-made object to be blasted into space? Do you know in which year it was launched? a) 1957 b) 1960 c) 1967
Jennifer: I think it was in the sixties perhaps so I’m going to say b) 1960.
Rob: Well, we will find out if you are right at the end of the programme. So, we’ve mentioned that junk – or debris – floating around in space is a big problem. It can take a long time to tidy up your house so imagine the challenge that lies ahead in tidying up the great mess in outer space. That’s something that’s been discussed at a recent conference on space debris in Germany.
Jennifer: Well, tidying up space is not something I would like to do! But how did all this rubbish end up floating about up there in the first place?
Rob: A good question. For the past 50 years, man has been sending objects like rockets and satellites into orbit. In fact, even now around 70 satellites are sent into space every year. But when they are no longer needed they are just left up there and not disposed of – or put away somewhere where they won’t cause harm. They were never designed to be brought back down to Earth.