On March 14, for the second time in just over a week, the International Space Station (ISS) had to perform an avoidance maneuver to prevent a collision with space junk. Former incidents caused the cancellation of spacewalks and forced astronauts to take shelter. As spaceflight increases globally, low Earth orbit is becoming crowded with satellites and space junk.
The ISS has ducked out of the way to avoid space debris 33 times since 1999. Currently, 9,000 satellites orbit our planet, and experts expect that to increase to more than 60,000 by 2030. According to a statement from the University of Plymouth, scientists estimate that more than 100 trillion pieces of old satellites circle the Earth.
Sources: Quoted from: World News Group. “Beginnings Newsletter,” March 23, 2023; with data from Orbital Debris, Volume 27, Issue 1, March 2023, p. 2, from the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).