Where: Orbital Space around Earth
February 15, 2009 : An American and a Russian satellite collided over Siberia, Russia, on February 10, 2009. Five days after the event, there were reports that burning fragments of the wreckage were spotted over several American cities. The American satellite, Iridium 33, was a civilian communications satellite launched in 1997, and the Russian one, Kosmos-2251, was a non-functioning military communications satellite, launched in 1993. Both satellites weighed over 450 kilograms. Travelling at approximately 28,000 kilometres per hour, they collided 790 kilometres above the earth. This was the largest accident in space in recent times, and it has created a mass of almost 600 chunks of fragments.
This could hinder all future satellite launches for a considerable period of time. The director of the Pulkovo Observatory in St. Petersburg in Russia said, “Future launches will have to be adjusted with regard to the fact that the debris has spread over an 800-km area and will gather at a common orbit in 5-6 years.”
NASA* said this massive cloud of space junk is not the only one of its kind, but now adds to the 19,000 other objects that pollute the orbit space around the earth.
*National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the USA government’s space agency.