There is so much junk whizzing around Earth that any collision in space could now cause a knock-on effect that would destroy vital satellites, according to a Pentagon report.
A crash between a satellite and a hunk of space junk could send thousands of pieces of debris spinning out, which could destroy other satellites.
Television signals, weather forecasts, global-positioning navigation and international phone connections are just some of the services at risk.
The uncontrolled chain reaction could make some orbits unusable for both commercial or military satellites, according to the U.S Space Posture Review sent to Congress in March.
The report, which has not been publicly released, said space is ‘increasingly congested and contested.”
Since the first object, Sputnik One, was launched into space 53 years ago, mankind have created a swarm of perhaps tens of millions of items of debris.
The rubbish circling the planet comes from old rockets, abandoned satellites and missile shrapnel.
‘This is almost the tipping point,’ Indian rocket scientists Bharath Gopalaswamy told Bloomberg.
‘No satellite can be reliably shielded against this kind of destructive force.’
The warning follows the first major crash last year between a U.S. communications satellite and a defunct Russian military probe over Siberia.
The collision at speeds of at least 15,000mph created a cloud of 1,500 pieces of space junk that the International Space Station then had to manoeuvre to avoid.
A Chinese missile test in 2007 left 150,000 pieces of junk in the atmosphere.
These two events encouraged the U.S to support the United Nations when it issued guidelines that urge companies and countries to stop cluttering Earth’s orbit.
Mazlan Othman, the director of the UN’s Outer Space Affairs office, said: ‘Space needs policies and laws to protect the public interest.
‘We should have all the instruments to make sure that lifestyles are not disrupted because of misconduct in space.’
Via Daily Mail