Saturday, 31 October, 2020

'Very high risk' defunct Russian satellite and Chinese rocket body will collide

Very high risk’ defunct Russian satellite and Chinese rocket body will collide Tonight, two large masses of space debris could collide and fill Earth's low orbit with scrap.
Sandy Nunez | 17 October, 2020, 08:35

But only 22,000 are tracked, and with the fragments able to travel at speeds above 16,777 miles per hour (27,000kmh), even tiny pieces could seriously damage or destroy satellites.

Such a hit could kill astronauts on a spacecraft.

Currently, there is no technology to avoid collision or space junk collection.

While there is no risk of harming anyone on Earth, if debris collides, it could be the start of a feedback loop of growing orbital litter that will make space travel more hard. Russia, China and the USA have all launched such missiles. Then two years later, an American spacecraft accidentally collided with a Russian one.

The spaceflight community therefore needs to come up with debris-minimizing guidelines, and soon, many experts say. In 2019, India also successfully test-fired an Anti-Satellite Weapon that created about 6500 pieces of space debris. The mass of these two objects, floating in space, is 2.8 metric tons. The Soviet satellite was launched into space in 1989. Given those large sizes, a collision could have created a significant cloud of risky debris.

"This occasion continues to be very excessive threat and can probably keep this fashion via the time of closest method", LeoLabs tweeted. Thankfully, the two large pieces of space debris missed each other, but that doesn't mean we can go back to ignoring our space debris.

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Both Timos and Northern Space and Defense will develop optical sensors to monitor space objects from the United Kingdom, while Andor in Northern Ireland will upgrade their astronomical camera to detect small-scale debris and map. It's understandable why it was classed as a "high risk" for collision.

Experts' warnings about space junk have only grown more urgent since that near miss.

The last collision, in 2009, saw a dead Russian military satellite ram into an active communications satellite operated by US-based telecommunications firm Iridium. This is bad, and with companies like SpaceX planning to launch thousands more satellites on a regular basis, it's just getting worse. In total, the companies plan to launch more than 100,000 satellites by the end of the decade. The former is a dead machine while the latter is discarded and both are now in the Earth's orbit.

While there are efforts underway to clean up space debris, they are still a ways off. The ten to twenty percent collision chance was warned earlier by a NASA Scientist, Donald Kessler, with the famed "Kessler Syndrome". "Anything that makes a lot of debris is going to increase that risk".

Although there is no threat on Earth, man-made materials may pose a major threat to satellites operating in orbit.

"These numbers haven't changed drastically and this is still a high-stakes event", LeoLabs spokeswoman Marie Devenszo told Business Insider.