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Tue, Mar 12, 2013

Russian Satellite Rendered Useless After Collision With Space Junk

Debris From Chinese Missile Test Suspected

In 2007, the Chinese government destroyed its Feng Yun 1C weather satellite in a missile test. Now, a piece of debris left over from that test is thought to have collided with a Russian satellite, rendering it useless.

CNN reports that the Russian BLITS satellite ... described as a small glass sphere that reflected lasers back to Earth for research purposes, was knocked off its axis by the collision and now faces the wrong way, rendering it useless. The collision is thought to have taken place around January 22.

Researchers from the Center for Space Standards and Innovation (CSSI) told CNN that the only objects catalogued by the U.S. Strategic Command near the BLITS satellite was the debris from the Chinese satellite. It was originally thought that there was sufficient separation between the objects to rule out a collision, but with the orbit change coming within 10 seconds of the predicted near-miss time, It seemed that a piece of the Feng Yun 1C satellite was the likely culprit, according to a blog post written by CSSI's T.S. Kelso.

The Chinese satellite had been launched into a polar orbit in 1999. It was destroyed while that government was testing a ground-launched medium-range ballistic missile, creating what U.S. officials said were hundreds of pieces of debris. The test was protested by the U.S., Canada, Australia, and other allies.

(Image shows orbit of debris field from destroyed Chinese satellite. STK-generated images courtesy of CSSI)

FMI: www.centerforspace.com

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