In the world I'm building, a nuclear war and subsequent repressive chaos have led all satellites to be destroyed by the powers that be, around 10 years from now. A few years later, a small spacecraft, which doesn't have a heat resistant cover to allow it to enter the atmosphere, reaches Earth orbit and proceeds to gather space debris. Of course, with all the destroyed satellites, it has a lot of material, and it has a laser which it can use to change its course. It may also have other things but it has come from Mars so would need to have either made it there or have reused or re-purposed man made materials there.
Also it can use solar power to recharge said laser and keep things going as it floats along. It has as much time as is needed as the solar power can keep it going almost indefinitely. So the questions are: How much space debris would I have to collect, and how would I collect it, so that I'd have enough cover around my space ship to leave orbit without burning up, and so I can use my last bit of fuel to attempt a descent? Would this resulting debris cause a lot of havoc once I detached it from my ship before landing?