DID AN AMERICAN SATELLITE AND DEAD RUSSIAN SPY SATELLITE COLLIDE IN ORBIT?
So we’ve all watched enough TV and movies to have heard about the dangers of space junk. But it’s real and it’s sitting over our heads every minute of every day. Yet we don’t usually think of satellites as space junk. But what happens when a satellite “dies” in orbit? Well, if it doesn’t quickly fall into Earth’s gravity well and (mostly) burn up on re-entry, they just keep floating out there, wandering above in perpetuity. Well, at least until it wanders into something else, that is. But that’s exactly what may happen with a “dead” Russian satellite. Bigelow Aerospace, a private American firm, received word from the US Air Force that its Genesis II spacecraft just might collide with a now dead Russian spy satellite, the Cosmos 1300.
PRIVATE AMERICAN FIRM HEARS FROM US AIR FORCE THEIR SATELLITE COULE BE IN DANGER
And yes, I am thinking about the Movie, Space Cowboys. But this isn’t the kind of situation where a team of American geriatrics are gonna fly into orbit and save the day. We’re hearing this news from Bigelow Aerospace’s Twitter feed. They sent out, “Today, we were notified by the US Air Force that there is a 5.6% chance that Genesis II will collide with dead Russian satellite Cosmos 1300 in 15 hours. Although this is a relatively low probability, it brings to light that low Earth orbit is becoming increasingly more littered.” Littered. Yeah, that sounds about right. But when things collide in space, it gets messy.
DID THEY COLLIDE? NO NEWS YET, SO KEEP YOUR HEADS UP!
So when is this going to happen? Or, shall I say, when did this happen or not, depending on when you read this? Well, so far there’s no word. But I’m writing this roughly 7 hours after we should have known. But for some reason, I can’t find anything confirming one way or the other. As it happens, just weeks ago Space X had to re-task one of its satellites from another near collision. So what’s the big deal? Well, a bigger mess is the short answer. When these objects collide, they spread a huge mess of tiny pieces that linger a long time. Forever is a possibility, at least until we get up there and start cleaning it up. We’ll keep hearing about these issues more and more. But especially when a big chunk falls to Earth and kills a bunch of people.