Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Russian satellite hit by debris from past ASAT test

Last month it was reported that a small Russian satellite's (the BLITS Ball Lens In The Space) orbit changed noticeably. Changes were noticed in its spin velocity and altitude. Now these changes have been traced back to a debris strike back in late-January. It is thought the satellite has been damaged by the collision. The debris came from a retired Chinese satellite which was deliberately struck in an anti-satellite test in 2007.

Fengyun FY-1C was a retired weather satellite which destroyed by a kinetic kill vehicle launched on top of a modified ballistic missile, over 2000 trackable pieces of debris resulted from the strike plus over 150000 particles. The size of the debris cloud and resulting danger to other space vehicles sparked international controversy and concern.

Debris strikes are still pretty rare though are getting more common as the amount of debris in orbit increases. A couple of times debris from the Chinese ASAT test has come close to the International Space Station.

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