At any given time, NASA is keeping track of about 16,000 pieces of space junk in Earth's orbit — and those are just the big chunks. This debris poses a serious safety hazard, primarily to operational satellites in the planet's orbit, but also to astronauts like those on board the ISS. In fact, according to some NASA models, the amount of crap orbiting our planet may be reaching a dangerous tipping point — one that could make space travel prohibitively risky.
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