Taking Out the Trash in Space

Gina Sunseri at ABC News:

Screenhunter_11_jul_17_2115The numbers are staggering: 13,000 pieces of junk, each of them more than 30 feet long, are orbiting in space.

There are at least another 100,000 hunks of junk that measure between 1 and 10 centimeters (roughly one-half to 4 inches). And the number of pieces smaller than 1 centimeter orbiting the Earth is in the millions.

It’s a mess up there.

Why does NASA care so much about all the space junk? Because it only takes one tiny object, flying at thousands of miles an hour, to punch a catastrophic hole in the International Space Station or a space shuttle.

When astronauts need to throw something away on the space station, they don’t want to add to the problem. They can wait for a Russian Progress supply ship to take it away, or return it to Earth on a shuttle flight.

More here.