Russian and US satellites collide
Friday, February 13, 2009
Thecivilian communications satellite and the defunct military communications satellite over on Tuesday, according to . The satellites, each weighing in excess of 1,000 pounds, and traveling at approximately 17,500 miles per hour, collided 491 miles above the earth.
The Iridium satellite was launched in 1997, and the Russian satellite was amodel. The American satellite is expected to be replaced within the coming month as Iridium will maneuver one of its in-orbit satellites to replace the lost unit.
Although the first such satellite crash in space, such an event has been long predicted. Nicholas Johnson, chief scientist ofat the stated, "We knew this was going to happen eventually and this is it — this was the big one."
While theand the are at minimal risk, the event does raise concerns that the debris cloud could collide with other satellites in the region, triggering an exponentially growing series of collisions and debris known as an .
Theof the office is tracking the debris. The result of plotting analysis will be posted to a public website.