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US Space Surveillance Network

All of the thousands of pieces of space junk are tracked by the US Space Surveillance Network. They track and predict when pieces of space junk are expected to re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere, and can detect new man-made objects that enter Earth orbit. This agency also informs NASA whenever space debris is moving on a trajectory that might coincide with the space shuttle or International Space Station.

Since the launch of Sputnik in 1957, over 36,761 man-made objects have been catalogued, many of which have since re-entered the atmosphere. Currently, they keep track of more than 22,000 man-made objects orbiting Earth that are 10 centimeters or larger.  About five percent of those being tracked are functioning payloads or satellites, eight percent are rocket bodies, and about 87 percent are fragmentation and inactive satellites.