Space Junk 3D exposes debris problems Space may be the final frontier, but it's also turning into a big junkyard. With the US having this week declared it is going to work with the EU and other nations to devise an international code of conduct for outer space activities, a new movie called 'Space Junk' is aiming to show in 3D how humankind has been littering the earth’s low orbit during the past years of earth exploration. 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. Melrae Pictures, a creator of 3D and 2D entertainment, is behind the upcoming release. According to the company, the stereoscopic film aims to reflect a "growing ring of orbiting debris" it says is threatening the future safety of space exploration. The 38-minute film is set to be released in IMAX and digital theatres. 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. Space debris can include defunct satellites, dust from rocket motors and paint flakes that cloud around in low earth orbit and which can provide risk to spacecrafts. The European Union has been drawing up a voluntary code of conduct for space activities since 2008. One of the igniters for such a code was when the Chinese military destroyed a weather satellite in 2007, generating massive space debris as a result. "It isn't a coincidence that media headlines of falling debris are growing just as we launch this film," said Butts in a statement. "As we started researching this story, we found that most scientists agree that we've reached this tipping point where orbital debris will continue to grow exponentially if don't address the problem." A New Code of conduct But last week the US said it would not be going along with the EU's proposed code of conduct, Ellen Tauscher, the undersecretary of state for arms control and nonproliferation, indicated how the code was "too restrictive" for the US. Instead, it has come up with a new tactic. This week, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the US would be joining up with the European Union and other nations to devise an international code of conduct. Citing how the long-term sustainability of our "space environment" is at risk from space debris, Clinton said the US will not enter into a code of conduct that "in any way constrains our national security-related activities in space or our ability to protect the United States and our allies". Just last Sunday, the failed Russian satellite Phobos-Grunt crashed back to earth, burning up over the Pacific Ocean. It had been in the earth's orbit since its unsuccessful November launch. The Russian Federal Space Agency, Roscosmos, is now investigating the possible causes for the failure of the Phobos-Grunt probe. Last September, the American UARS satellite fell into the ocean, while in October, Germany's Rosat telescope also crashed into the ocean. Space junk - A Serious threat to satellites That tipping point is known as the Kessler syndrome. It is named after Don Kessler, the former head of NASA's Orbital Debris Office, who appears in the new film and has spent decades studying the orbital debris issue, earning him the unofficial title of "Father of Space Junk." The Kessler syndrome marks the point where there's so much debris around Earth that it crashes into each other, creating more and more space junk in a chain reaction that poses a severe threat to the satellites providing the communications, navigation and other services that daily life depends on. "My hope is, that with the help of 'Space Junk 3D', that other people will end up learning about the implications of orbital debris," Kessler said in a statement. "Scientists are predicting that the amount of orbital debris will increase. Those predictions are becoming reality today." Today there are nearly 6,000 tons of space junk traveling at speeds of 17,500 mph (28,500 kph) in low-Earth orbit, the home of the International Space Station and many satellites a few hundred miles above the planet. Further out, nearly 400 dead satellites silently drift in graveyard orbits about 22,369 miles (36,000 km) above Earth. This space debris is constantly monitored by the U.S. military's Space Surveillance Network to ensure that the swarms of working satellites, not to mention the constantly crewed International Space Station, are safe from collisions. But a report released in September by the National Research Council warned that the amount of space junk orbiting Earth had reached such a high level that it may already have reached Kessler syndrome proportions. Space junk cleaning plans The problem is so critical that the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has performed studies to determine the best way to clean up orbital debris. "Space Junk 3D" touches on some of those concepts, including giant nets, lasers, solar sails and tethers to force old satellites back toward Earth, where they can burn up in the atmosphere. Even a futuristic space recycling center, complete with orbital garbage trucks to pick up satellite trash, makes an appearance. But Kessler said the solution will not belong to any one country or organization. "It is a global problem," Kessler said. "It's up to the international community to address the issue, not just the United States." "Space Junk 3D" is narrated by British actor Tom Wilkinson ("In the Bedroom," "The Patriot") and presented by Melrae Pictures. With a running time of 38 minutes, the film relies on slick digital effects to swiftly present the space junk problem while simultaneously taking advantage of stunning views of Arizona's Meteor Crater and simulated galaxy crashes to depict the role that natural impacts have on the world around us. But it is the unnatural crashes that pose the biggest threat, especially if humanity will continue to rely on satellites and other space-based assets for day-to-day activities, Kessler said. "Space is finite and you can't put so much stuff in space without managing the way that you do it," Kessler said. "And that is extremely important."