Space station parts backlogged at NASA

June 21, 2003 at 6:54 PM
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CHENNAI, India, June 21 (UPI) -- The earth is becoming surrounded by a dangerous mass of hurling space junk, The Hindu newspaper of India reported Saturday.

Experts warn up to 10,000 large objects are currently circling the planet, including old satellites, spent rocket stages, exploded components and lost equipment.

Another 100,000 smaller objects, such as nuts and bolts, are floating in space and although they cannot be picked up on radar, they are just as dangerous, the newspaper said.

Space junk can destroy satellites or tear into manned shuttles or the International Space Station. It would only take a tiny particle to tear a hole through an astronaut's spacesuit.

"Debris isn't an issue in interplanetary missions but in earth missions it is, especially on manned ones," William Johnson, an American radar designer told the paper.

"What you worry about is paint flakes -- if one of those hits you, it'll make your day."

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