On the History Channel they were talking about satellites and said that space junk (space debris) could be a hazard to orbiting satellites and space shuttles, etc., if they collided. They mentioned that even a tiny paint chip, travelling at 17,500 mph, for example, could be dangerous if it collided with a space shuttle.
I've always thought that these orbiting objects were actually stationary
. In other words, they are not being propelled at a high speed, but they are merely "falling" or dropping off in orbit around the curvature of the earth and remain stationary. That is to say, astronauts inside the shuttle are not actually travelling at 17,500 mph, instead, the earth is rotating or moving underneath them at at a high speed.
As a layman, I thought I had all this figured out, until they pointed out that a chip of paint, travelling at 17,500 mph could pose a hazard. Now I'm curious as well as confused and would appreciate any clarifiation.
Thanks in advance ...