From the April 2008 issue

A growing problem

NASA now tracks more than 10,000 pieces of junk orbiting Earth — and it took humans just 50 years to create this mess.
By | Published: April 23, 2008 | Last updated on May 18, 2023
The numbers get so big so fast, it doesn’t take long for the eyes to glaze over. China’s successful test of an antisatellite weapon in January 2007 created more than 2,000 pieces of orbital debris at least 4 inches (10 centimeters) across — big enough that the U.S. Space Surveillance Network can track them. And the number of smaller shards likely numbers in the hundreds of thousands, if not millions.