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Nearly 60 years after the USSR launched Spunik I -- and more than 4,900 space launches later -- a number of objects now circle the Earth. Scientists track nearly 20,000 pieces of space debris that are said to be larger than a softball, but it is estimated that close to 500,000 pieces of untrackable debris -- perhaps millions of the smallest size -- exist in orbit as well. If a single, marble-sized piece of orbital debris were to hit a functional, orbiting spacecraft -- as seen in the movie, "Gravity" -- the results would be catastrophic.
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