Space Junk Passes 'Tipping Point'

Report urges NASA to ramp up efforts quickly
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 1, 2011 5:11 PM CDT
Space Junk Past 'Tipping Point'
This computer generated graphic provided by NASA shows images of debris in Earth's orbit that are currently being tracked.   (AP Photo/NASA)

(Newser) – Astronauts on the International Space Station had a close call with space debris in June, and things are only going to get worse from here on out, warns a new report. In fact, the amount of junk orbiting earth has now passed the "tipping point," says the National Research Council. It calls for NASA to get a better handle on the problem quickly and for the US to enlist the help of other nations to figure out solutions, reports the Washington Post.

story continues below

“We’re going to have a lot more [debris] collisions, and at an increasingly frequent rate,” says a former NASA scientist who helped draft the report. It's not just astronauts at risk: Multimillion-dollar satellites can be rendered useless when even a small piece of debris hits them. And in a vicious cycle, the more collisions that happen, the more debris is created. We'll hope discarded pizza boxes don't add to the problem. (Read more space junk stories.)

We use cookies. By Clicking "OK" or any content on this site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. Read more in our privacy policy.
Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.