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Space junk a growing concern for NASA astronauts

"It's a safety concern is the bottom-line," NASA astronaut Raja Chari said. "Right now, we're relying on people's goodwill to not leave junk behind."

HOUSTON — A new team of NASA astronauts will be blasting off to the International Space Station on Oct. 31. That launch caps off an exciting month for space exploration.

However, as the interest in space is reaching new heights there's a growing concern of what lies ahead.

"It's a safety concern is the bottom-line," NASA astronaut Raja Chari said. "Right now, we're relying on people's goodwill to not leave junk behind."

Chari is talking about "space junk." He's one of NASA's astronauts rocketing to the ISS on a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft at the end of the month.

Right now, there are about 27,000 pieces of space junk or orbital debris.

"It becomes like a movie where you have so much junk you can't even get through it," Trent Martin, the vice president of Space Systems at Intuitive Machines. said.

From dead rocket boosters to paint particles, Martin says space is becoming a junk yard.

"Very, very large empty rocket bodies, spent rocket bodies is what we call them," he said. "And many of them have been up there for years. Many of them have been up there since the 60s."

Space junk is dangerous because even something as small as a dried-up piece of paint can cause catastrophic damage. In space objects are traveling nearly 20,000 mph.

"Space debris threatens the astronauts on the International Space Station," Kevin O'Connell, founder and CEO of Space Economy Rising, said.

O'Connell testified at this summer's Senate Hearing on Managing Space Traffic.

"Space debris policy discussions date back all the way to the Reagan Administration," he said. "The launch to the ISS In April was flawless except for a near miss of a huge chunk of space debris."

In May, space junk struck a robotic arm at the ISS. The small hole is proof.

"These calls are too close," he said.

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