Podcast: Viasat’s Mark Dankberg on the perils and challenges of space pollution

The company’s executive chairman addresses a growing threat to access to space presented by the rise of satellite mega-constellations in low-earth orbit (LEO)


Orbital debris is a growing problem and represents a significant threat to the New Space Age. Thousands of objects left over from a variety of old satellites and other missions are currently orbiting the earth, and even the smallest of those fragments pose a risk to active spacecraft. The introduction of these mega-constellations into this environment has been described as a “game changer” and leading experts warn that as they deploy, it is not a question of if a defunct satellite will collide with debris, but when.

In this episode of the Viasat podcast, host Alex Miller talks with company co-founder and Executive Chairman Mark Dankberg about “space pollution” and how the industry and regulatory agencies around the world are confronting this growing threat. With hundreds of small satellites having been launched into low-earth orbit already — and tens of thousands planned for launch within the next few years to create mega-constellations — Dankberg addresses some of the pressing issues.

Topics included in this interview include:

  • How orbital debris is created and the damage it can do;
  • How the mega-constellations underway or planned by industry players such as SpaceX and Amazon are exacerbating this problem;
  • The role the FCC and other regulatory agencies are playing to confront the issue; and
  • Thoughts on how LEO constellations can be made safer and still achieve their missions with fewer, more capable satellites while also ensuring that everyone else retains equitable access to shared orbits.