The International Space Station (ISS) may require a $5 billion debris shield and particle tracking network to protect its operation in orbit, says the US Government's General Accounting Office (GAO) - but funding is not included in current ISS cost estimates.

Particles of debris as small as 10mm could puncture the walls of ISS modules, causing loss of pressure. The Department of Defense's existing tracking network cannot track objects this small and needs to be upgraded, says the GAO.

NASA administrator Daniel Goldin says the danger is not exclusive to the ISS and thinks funding should be a national effort.

Source: Flight International