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More Congested: Today, the US military's global network of terrestrial-based radar and optical sensors keeps tab on approximately 21,500 objects orbiting the Earth, an increase of 1,700 items compared to this time last year, Lt. Gen. Larry James, 14th Air Force commander, told the Senate Armed Services Committee Wednesday. Of these, there are nearly 10,000 pieces of debris, 6,800 unknown objects, 3,700 dead satellites and rocket pieces, and more than 1,100 active satellites. The Air Force is now able to keep track of all active satellites, predict when pieces of debris or satellites will re-enter the atmosphere, recommend when to safely launch a new payload, and prevent potential satellite collisions. In fact, Gen. Robert Kehler, Air Force Space Command boss, told these lawmakers that "there have already been 56 instances" where satellite owners  maneuvered their spacecraft to avoid possible collisions based on USAF information. (James prepared remarks) (Kehler prepared remarks)