When Satellites Collide

Like a scene from the Japanese TV series “Planetes“, a Russian and US satellite have collided in orbit. Early in February a non functional Russian military satellite (Kosmos 2251) and a US Iridium communications satellite occurred temporarily disrupting the Iridium communications network. An on orbit spare will be brought into service within the next 30 days. So far this isi the first accident of it’s kind, where a satellites has struck another satellite and not just orbital debris (paint chips, fuel tanks, etc) hitting working space hardware. There was that Chinese missile test where they destroyed a non functional weather bird but that was intentional (and also caused quite a mes up there). Hopefully the junk left from the recent accident will burn up, if not it will become part of the cloud of over 17,000 objects that are currently tracked by ground stations.

Original story:
Russian and US satellites collide

2 thoughts on “When Satellites Collide”

  1. That cloud is actually more like over 18,000 as of whenever they recorded the portion of History Channel’s Universe: The Edge of Space that discusses the space junk problem.

    I wonder how long it will be before we implement something like in Planetes, or a business is able to startup in space to do that?

  2. Probably never, at least the way it’s portrayed in the show. Just too much over too large of an area at speed that are too high to be safe for a human. Unless it’s darn heavy and self healing anything that can be used as a catchers mitt will add to the problem once it’s used. Even foam poses a problem. Maybe something ground based that can heat up junk and cause it to out gas a little to move it into a decaying orbit. Best solution is not to add anymore junk by making people add de-orbit thrusters on satellites and proper venting systems so tanks don’t explode with excess pressure. Also space systems that minimize lose parts that are ‘expended’ upon use would be a huge help.

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