Space Junk: The Soviet Union and Successors Factor
While the source of space launches has diversified, Russia remains one of the two space superpowers.
1. The now-defunct Soviet Union and its space-faring successors, Russia and Ukraine, collectively have contributed the most debris to the space around Earth since the start of space exploration.
2. As of July 1, 2015, a total of 6,282 payloads, rocket bodies and general debris fragments attributable to the Soviet, Russian or Ukrainian space programs have been cataloged as currently in orbit around Earth.
3. This represents 37% of all current space debris.
4. The Soviet Union’s space program was the first to launch a manmade object into orbit, with the “Sputnik 1” in 1957. The word Sputnik literally means “satellite” in Russian.
5. Today, while the source of space launches has diversified, Russia remains one of the two space superpowers, along with the United States.
6. Russia launches manned flights and re-supply missions to the International Space Station from the former Soviet facilities in what is now Kazakhstan.
7. Ukraine is the only other former Soviet country that retained its own space program after the Union’s dissolution. It remains very limited in scope.
Sources: The Globalist Research Center, United States Space Surveillance Network, NASA, Secure World Foundation