The modern global position system (GPS) has revolutionized the way we locate and navigate everything from the family SUV to the jumbo jets crisscrossing the international airways. As such, we often take this invaluable tool for granted – that is, until we know how it works.
NASA is by far the most well-funded, well-developed space agency on the planet. Even as its budget -- relative to total U.S. tax income -- has continually been reduced over the decades since the Apollo era, NASA still receives several times the funding of its largest international competitors.
There are hundreds of satellites, 8,000 tons of junk and more than 500,000 pieces of debris that are tracked as they circle the planet. This orbital debris and the speeds at which it travels increases the potential danger to both manned and unmanned space vehicles due to the increased potential for collision-related damage.