Over the past several decades scraps of metal and other mechanical materials have piled up in our Earth’s orbital ring. It was year 1965 when US astronaut Ed White lost a spare glove when he went outside his spaceship for the first time. From that time, astronauts have accidentally added some of the more unusual items to the 100,000 pieces of space trash. From the size of a crumb to the windshield of a car, metal is floating in space.
NASA says it has spotted debris hits of dried-up urine, toothpaste, and shaving cream, in an experiment placed outside of the Russian space station Mir. In fact an Indonesian satellite was struck by urine and fecal matter.
Although it may sound funny, space litter a serious issue and a dangerous one too. Not only can space litter damage or kill, you can get sued, too. There are lawyers who monitor space junk because there’s a complex legal treaty about who is responsible when the artificial debris cripples a satellite worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
In the 1960s, America launched bunches of copper needles into Earth’s orbit in an ill-conceived plan for post-nuclear war communications. Many of those needles are still up there. Other intentionally jettisoned space junk once included bags of trash thrown overboard from the Russian space station Mir and pieces of equipment pitched into orbit from space-walkers fixing the Hubble Space Telescope.
Actually there are much bigger objects to worry about, including giant rocket bodies from launches dating back to 1958. Traveling at such high velocities, even a small body could cause trouble. Imagine a particle hitting you while you are out there inspecting your space-shuttle.