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Bill NyeAugust 6, 2009

To the stars to be sure, but first, to the rocks and ice!

by Bill Nye

First of all, thank you members for supporting me in my role as your vice president. I am often struck by all the very good ideas you have. But more importantly, you are all so passionate about space. We all rely on space for our day-to-day business more than ever. If you use a Global Positioning System (GPS) to get around, or let's say you prefer to not have airliners land on your home rather than a runway, you depend on these systems. From time to time, we create more debris in orbit around the Earth. If we make enough of this stuff, we're going to have a hellish mess in our nearby heavens. Well, we're well on our way.

We as citizens of Earth, and of course as Planetary Society members, have to start thinking about this problem. Do we send missions, paid for with tax dollars, yuan, and euros to clear the skies? What mission would you send exactly? This stuff is going very fast, often in the wrong direction -- or directions. Should there be penalties, enforced by an international body, for cluttering up the desirable orbital spaces in space. And, what of military hardware, satellites and so on? The tonnage is high, the speeds hard to imagine, and the solution? Well, we don't exactly have one right now.

That's a near-Earth problem. More important perhaps is the far-Earth problem

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Bill Nye

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