The Biggest Danger to Humanities future is the ORBITAL MINEFIELD (“Space Junk” is a poor name) now surrounding Earth at extreme speed....We humans have caused and inherited this by continuing to launch hundreds of spacecraft in equator crossing orbits.. ONLY using an equatorial launch site and orbit avoids this
Space Junk removal The Agency is tasked to clear the ORBITAL MINEFIELD . Any piece of material - even tiny pieces are dangerous, as their collision speeds with each other or our ships is at speeds of about 10Km/second – this is 100 times more energetic than a high velocity rifle bullet of the same mass, and continues for thousands of years and many millions of Km travel in orbit at 7.5Km/sec orbital speed until it hits something. Then the smaller, but more numerous fragments DO NOT FALL – they are a much bigger hazard, and are much harder to avoid or clean up. You can't use a vacuum cleaner in a vacuum! We should STOP launching on inclined orbits, but politics, the military, and geographical location makes this hard to achieve.
All such future (non-equatorial) launches should be required to go to and pick up more debris than they add. (This collected mass may also help to provide extra shielding to such craft from solar flares) until It can be delivered or picked up To capture the larger bits that are closer to Equatorial orbit, individual missions travel from LEO-PORT or Haven1, but additional collection craft may have to be launched in an inclined orbit to rendezvous with the more inclined orbit, and the high delta-V angle change to get to LEO=PORT or Haven1 may mean a much higher orbit – say 10,000Km would be their target, for the third ship in the series, which is no longer Earth equatorial, but on the solar (planetary) plane when it has a load of collected debris.
For HUMANS, animals and plants aboard a bigger immediate threat is radiation from a solar flare, and this requires MASS shielding – any material will do – steel or banana skins, but at least 1 Tonne per square metre is required, and scrap material is very useful and expensive to obtain from Earth. Although “Orbital Salvage” can gather 100 tonnes or so, The cost in propellants to do so may be considerably more than the cost of bringing it from Earth to Equatorial orbit. This is not why we're doing it. The cost of not doing it RIGHT NOW is effectively eternal imprisonment on our one planet. It is VERY URGENT
A technologically able civilization ABOVE the Orbital Minefield may be able to repair it in a few hundred years, but again, WE MUST DO IT NOW. The accessible resources of the asteroid belt far exceed what can be got from Earth. The 2020 plan is to have a Haven1 craft at or near Deimos (or Phobos) the small and very low gravity moons of mars, where materials for, and construction of interplanetary craft of much bigger size is possible. Only one planet, Earth, is suitable for living on and not for much longer unless we take care of it. In 50-100 years there will be a lot less people able to survive in its resource depleted, crowded and polluted atmosphere. Most other animal species will be only in zoos or very small reservations for our pleasure or to assuage our guilt. In that time frame there may be several million people in large habitats orbiting the sun or planets, but that is only a few months of Mothers “doing their joyful thing” without caring for the world they bring their children into. This is an unpopular view and doe3s not win me supporters. People (particularly parents) want to disbelieve the figures, and reality is ignored. The natural result of increasing pressure in any limited containment is destructive explosion, and this is already happening. WAKE UP, fellow Humans. Action is needed right now!