nasa, ISS, satellite collision, space junk, debris,
Orbital Debris Model around Earth. According to NASA, most of the space debris prevails in the lower Earth orbit where the ISS flies.Pixabay

A flock of thousands of satellites are present over our heads at any given moment, at an altitude of around 160 km to 1609 km.

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There are more than 4,600 satellites orbiting our planet along with more than 14,000 old rocket parts as well as space debris.

This is worrying the experts as they believe that the junk would result in more number of space collisions and raise the risk for craft leaving Earth.

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According to reports, 95 percent of man-made space debris bigger than our fist comprises of out-of-control and used space station and rocket parts, astronaut tools and dead satellites.

The orbiting satellites are just a small portion of the debris, a Business Insider report revealed.

Moving faster than a speeding bullet, these take longer than other space debris to return to Earth.

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"This debris can stay up there for hundreds of years," Bill Ailor, an aerospace engineer and atmospheric reentry specialist, was quoted by Business Insider as saying.

One space collision can end up creating thousands of pieces of space junk which can move swiftly and increase the risk of harming other spacecraft.

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The European Space Agency (ESA) revealed that Earth is being orbited by 170 million pieces of space junk consisting of numerous "explosive bolts" and paint flecks, according to the Business Insider report.

These pieces of man-made space junk move at a pace of tens of thousands of mile per hour, according to the ESA.

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"Countries have learned over the years that when they create debris, it presents a risk to their own systems just as it does for everybody else," Ailor, who works for the nonprofit Aerospace Corporation, stated.

According to data from, the countries with the most space junk in Earth's orbit, till October 2017, are Russia, the US and China.

These are details of the trackable space trash of the top six countries as per the statistics:

  • Russia tops the list with 6,500 junk objects
  • It is followed by the US, which has 6,211 junk objects
  • China stands third in the list with 3,839 objects
  • France is fourth with 547 objects
  • Japan has 266 junk objects in space
  • India stands sixth with 202 junk bodies in orbit

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According to Ailor, the key to get rid of space junk can be removing the old spacecraft from orbit. Various space agencies and corporations are coming up with the new technology to devise spacecraft de-orbiting.

"I've proposed something like a XPRIZE or a Grand Challenge, where would you identify three spacecraft and give a prize to an entity to remove those things," Ailor said.

"It's not just a technical issue. This idea of ownership gets to be a real player here.. No other nation has permission to touch a US satellite, for instance. And if we went after a satellite ... it could even be deemed an act of war," Ailor said

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According to Ailor, the countries need to join hands and come up with a treaty to control this issue.

"There needs to be something where nations and commercial authorities have some authority to go after something," he said.