The picture says it all. Imagine our pretty blue planet encrusted with a garbage belt. Perhaps one day we’ll have rings the size of Saturn’s, though still just garbage. This is the sort of thing, I believe, that will continue to be a major hurdle for commercial space programs. Sure, NASA can watch the orbital debris, but does everyone else have the funding/ability to monitor this? Can you imagine a pileup of space craft end-to-end because some idiot up front wasn’t watching his mirrors?
The incident at hand involves some Chinese hardware and American hardware that collided back in January several hundred miles above the atmosphere. The American rocket component was apparently from 1974. What a beater!