Dead Russian satellite, spent Chinese rocket likely to collide on Friday - LeoLabs

  • Dead Russian satellite, spent Chinese rocket likely to collide on Friday - LeoLabs

Dead Russian satellite, spent Chinese rocket likely to collide on Friday - LeoLabs

With more and more satellites being launched, there's certainly growing concern about the potential for collisions.

LeoLabs is a company that tracks space debris in Low Earth Orbit to prevent collisions.

There are also already hundreds of thousands - possibly millions - of objects whirling around in orbit uncontrolled, including spent rocket boosters, dead satellites and detritus from military anti-satellite missile demonstrations.

"We are not in a position to remove any debris like this", said Gorman. The smashup generated 1,800 pieces of trackable debris by the following October, as well as many others too small to detect. In higher orbits, space debris has forced even the International Space Station (ISS) to perform costly maneuvers to avoid rubbish, potentially damaging the station.

As of October 2019, the US Space Surveillance Network reported almost 20,000 artificial objects in orbit above the Earth -- but these are just the objects large enough to be tracked.

This is not the first close of the year. In January, a decommissioned space telescope and an experimental USA payload passed within about 47 meters of one another.

However, an updated forecast on Friday had been more reassuring, suggesting they were highly likely to miss each other by at least seven metres when they crossed paths 991km above the Antarctic coast at 1.56pm. In February 2009, for example, the operational Iridium 33 communications satellite collided with the defunct Russian military satellite Kosmos 2251. The ten to twenty percent collision chance was warned earlier by a NASA Scientist, Donald Kessler, with the famed "Kessler Syndrome". Eventually, a feedback loop could make near-Earth space inaccessible. The Kessler Syndrome proves its fears to be accurate as the effects would be massive, leaving behind a handful of debris. "To continue benefiting from the science, technology and data that operating in space brings, it is vital that we achieve better compliance with existing space debris mitigation guidelines in spacecraft design and operations".

The objects are expected to pass - or collide - at around 9 p.m. EST.

Speaking from California, Daniel Ceperley, the chief executive of space monitoring firm LeoLabs, told Stuff that if they did hit, it would be "a really high consequence" event. Debris from space objects such as rocket flarings, metal sheets, wirings, etc., are cluttering up the cosmic heavens.