More and more of our space junk is orbiting Earth. The stuff can be as big as a dead satellite, or as small as a chip of paint. Traveling at speeds more than 17,500 miles an hour a paint flake put a chink in a space shuttle window, on one mission.
The amount of junk in low Earth orbit -- where the shuttle and the space station travel -- has increased 60 percent since 2006, says NASA.
About 3,000 pieces of junk were created last year when China destroyed a defunct satellite as a test of anti-satellite military capability. About 2,000 more bits of space junk came from a crash this February between an Iridium commercial satellite and a dead Russian satellite.
William Jeffs, NASA spokesman, said the millions of pieces of space junk include half a million pieces bigger than a marble and 20,000 bigger than a softball.
"Space is like the Wild West used to be. The first explorers of the new frontier didn't feel like they needed laws. They dumped their trash anywhere."
International agreements are badly needed to ban anti-satellite tests like the one China did and require that countries that launch satellites and other spaceships be a lot more careful about what gets left behind up there.