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Satellites Collide in First Ever Major Mid-Space Collision [UPDATED]

Mon, Feb 16, 2009

Space

In has been reported as an unprecedented event, two satellites recently collided in orbit, producing a large debris cloud. According to spaceflightnow, “a commercial Iridium communications satellite and a defunct Russian satellite ran into each other Tuesday above northern Siberia, creating a cloud of wreckage, officials said today.”

U.S. STRATCOM which tracks thousands of objects in orbit, saw the collison and has been tracking the debris cloud.  Collisions between objects in orbit do happen, however this is the first time to large objects have collided.  The challenge for the military and other satellite operators is to determine the possible effects of this new debris cloud on other satellites and more importantly the International Space Satiation.  Officials currently believe that a small amount of the debris was knocked into the stations orbit but the risk is tiny.  It it however an on going investigation.  The station currently has three crew members on board.

Source: SpaceFlight Now

Update:  Looks like we are not done with the satellite collision news.  Yesterday there were numerous reports of a large very bright fireball in the sky above texas.  The Bad Astronomy blog tracked the news all day.  While we now know that the fireball was indeed caused by some of the debris from the satellite collison entering the atmosphere, there was a large period of time where that possibility was discounted and the fireball was a mystery.  People were even tracking possible de-orbit paths that the debris might have taken.  A local news station in Austin captured part of the fireball on video.

My hats of to the people who tracked all this information down and got to the bottom of things.

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