The ‘United States Strategic Command’ tracked a total of 17,852 artificial objects in orbit above the Earth, including 1,419 operational satellites.
More than 170 million debris smaller than 1 cm, about 670. 000 thousand debris between 1 and 10 cm, and around 29,000 thousand larger debris were estimated to be in orbit.
Collisions with debris have become a hazard to spacecraft; they cause damage akin to sandblasting, especially to solar panels and optics like telescopes or star trackers that can not be covered.
Although most debris burns up in the atmosphere, larger objects can reach the ground intact. According to NASA, an average of one piece of space junk has fallen back to Earth each day for the past 50 years. Despite their size, there has been no significant property damage.
According to some computer models, the amount of space junk has reached a tipping point, with enough currently in orbit to continually collide and create even more debris, raising the risk of spacecraft failures.