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Definition: space pollution


The contamination of space from non-working and decommissioned satellites, abandoned rocket stages and other debris. An estimated 20,000 objects considered "space junk" have been tracked; however, more than a million smaller pieces are estimated.

Starting with Russia's Sputnik 1 in 1957, the ever increasing rocket launches and number of satellites in orbit all contribute to space pollution. In 2020, there were approximately 2,500 satellites with plans by companies such as Amazon and SpaceX to launch thousands more. See satellite, Starlink and Project Kuiper.