space debris

September 2, 2011
By Rachel Eisenhower

No matter how vast it seems, even space gets a little crowded. Hundreds of active satellites and thousands of pieces of space junk clutter the area surrounding Earth-from lost astronaut tools to pieces of rockets. With the potential to travel at 17,500 miles per hour, even the smallest objects pose a big risk to spacecraft. To help track and identify the debris, the U.S. Air Force is replacing its aging and outdated Air Force Space Surveillance System, which has been in service for 50 years.