11.02.2009
FLUG REVUE

Iridium und Kosmos-Satellit kollidierenIridium and Cosmos satellite collide

Satellitenkollision im Orbit<br /> The collision of two communication satellites has left a debris pattern that may affect future space operations, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said at a symposium.

The American satellite, owned by Iridium Satellite of Bethesda, Md., weighed about 1,200 pounds and collided with a Russian satellite (Cosmos 2251) that had been nonoperational for more than a decade. The crash happened 491 miles above Siberia at 4.55 GMT. The collision was confirmed when the active U.S. satellite did not report in and the debris field was picked up by sensors.

The debris will be around for some time because the satellites were in a high orbit around the earth, Cartwright said. Once the debris field has stabilized, there will be a pattern that all countries can use to navigate around, he said. “It's a field of debris out there that's going to be out there for many years,” he said. “The good news is once it's stabilized, it's relatively predictable. The bad news is, it's a large area. If we're denied that large area for use, it becomes a problem.”

"This is the first time we've ever had two intact spacecraft accidentally run into each other," said Nicholas Johnson, chief scientist of NASA's Orbital Debris Program Office at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. The collision appears to be the worst space debris event since China intentionally destroyed one of its aging weather satellites during a 2007 anti-satellite test.




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