Space as Infinite Garbage Disposal?
There was a time when earth's oceans were viewed as a vast, immutable repository for waste and excess. “Dilution," as the saying went, “is the solution to pollution." Time and knowledge has shown how misguided this view had been.
Neither should extraterrestrial endeavors view the infinite space environment as the infinite waste disposal. Even the extremely limited visits to the moon over the past 40 years have left an estimated 300,000 pounds of scientific instrumentation, memorials and memorabilia, excess equipment, and outright trash. Interestingly, there are no “cradle to grave" specifications for any off-earth materials, which has resulted in some political turmoil regarding international responsibilities for unused materials in space. Perhaps a few tried and tested terrestrial axioms should still apply:
1. What goes around, comes around. Never truer than in orbital dynamics.
2. Waste not, want not. Got it, own it, recover it, use it again.
3. Design with the end in mind. Decommissioning should be the start of something useful.
Getting these principles into extraterrestrial development planning is hopefully going to be an obvious choice.