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article imageSatellite Collision in space over Siberia

By Thespian     Feb 11, 2009 in Science
Two large satellites collided 500 miles over Siberia today (Tuesday). One was a commercial Iridium satellite, which was launched in 1997, and the other was a Russian satellite launched in 1993 and believed to be nonfunctioning.
Yahoo News reported (via the AP) the hit around 4pm Pacific time.
The Iridium craft weighed 1,235 pounds, and the Russian craft nearly a ton.
No one has any idea yet how many pieces were generated or how big they might be.
"Right now, they're definitely counting dozens," Matney said. "I would suspect that they'll be counting hundreds when the counting is done."
As for pieces the size of micrometers, the count will likely be in the thousands, he added.
This crash will up the count of small bits of space debris in that orbit by thousands of pieces. At orbital velocities, each piece becomes like a bullet, able to puncture other unlucky craft that may pass through their line of fire. While NASA is monitoring the situation, currently, they believe there is little risk to the International Space Station or its three astronauts
Once again, we are reminded that it's not just important how well things in space work,it's even more important to know how they will fail.
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