As dump-sites go, there’s nothing quite like Earth orbit: Totally gone or near-dead spacecraft, spent motor casings and rocket stages, all the way down to pieces of solid propellant, insulation, and paint flakes.

Toss in for good measure thousands of frozen bits of still-radioactive nuclear reactor coolant dribbling from a number of aged Russian radar satellites.



Here’s the heavenly clutter count as of December 29, 2004.



There were 9,233 objects large enough to be tracked and catalogued by the USSTRATCOM Space Surveillance Network. Of this total there were 2,927 payloads, along with 6,306 object classed as rocket bodies and debris.



That’s the stats as listed in the January issue of The Orbital Debris Quarterly News, issued by the NASA Johnson Space Center Orbital Debris Program Office in Houston, Texas.



More here.

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