The space junk problem is not getting any better with the number of space debris orbiting the Earth growing by almost 500 this year. Nasa has released its quarterly report revealing the countries responsible for the maximum space junk in the near-Earth orbit.
Russia accounts for more space debris than any other country with 6,501 pieces in total floating in space and this includes 155 new ones, according to the report. The US is second with 6,017 objects of which 298 are new. China is third but is comparatively far behind the two leading polluters with 3,801 junk items in space.
The role of other countries in polluting near-Earth orbits is insignificant. France accounts for 532 items, Japan for 256, India for 192, the European Space Agency for 134, and other countries for 914.
As of now there are 18,347 space junk items in the near-Earth orbit alone including 4,434 payloads — both operational and defunct satellites — and 13,913 rocket bodies and debris. From January to April this year a total of 471 new junk items appeared in near-Earth orbits.
In April, a report by scientists from Southampton University had warned that if the problem of space junk is not checked there could be a significant increase in catastrophic collisions in our galaxy. Additionally, the Central Research Institute for Machine Building (TSNIIMASH) has also warned that the global space industry will come to a standstill in a century or two if the problem of debris in near-Earth space is not resolved.