Space may be the final frontier, but it's also turning into a big junkyard.
With bits of rockets, satellites and other leftovers from more than 50 years of spaceflight surrounding the Earth for thousands of miles in all directions, the space junk problem is more than just academic. And a new film, " Space Junk 3D," is opening Friday in IMAX and 2D digital theaters to spread awareness of the orbital debris threat to the public.
Directed by veteran filmmaker Melissa Butts, who also helmed the films "3D Sun" and "Mars 3D," the new movie uses eye-popping special effects and two pivotal events in space junk history — an unprecedented anti-satellite test by China and the 2009 crash between satellites from the United States and Russia — to illustrate the growing danger of orbital debris.
The message couldn't come at a more appropriate time. In the last four months, two huge old satellites — both more than 20 years old — have fallen from space in uncontrolled death plunges. A third spacecraft, Russia's failed Mars probe Phobos-Grunt, is poised to make its own fall to Earth in the next few days.