Space Pollution: Is Our Space Safe?
Orbiting Satellites, Debris and Space Junk
300,000 Hazardous Objects Orbiting Earth
After more than five decades of human activity in space, the news raises fresh concern over the swarms of hazardous debris orbiting the Earth.
A 2008 report by the international monitoring group Space Security Index found that 300,000 objects measuring between 0.4 and four inches (one and 10 centimeters) in diameter and "billions" of smaller pieces orbit the Earth.
Some 6,000 satellites have been sent into space since the Soviet Union launched the first man-made orbiter, Sputnik 1, in 1957. About 800 satellites remain in operation, according to STRATCOM.