Thursday, February 12, 2009

"The Horrendous Space Kablooie"

That's from the Calvin and Hobbes comic strip - it was Calvin's preferred term for the Big Bang. It came to mind last night with the violent collision between an Iridium communications satellite and a nonfunctional Russian comsat. With over 1,500 kg of mass involved, the collision created a massive debris field in the orbit 780 km up. The debris may contaminate orbits hundreds of kilometers above and below this point as well.
COMMENT: This kind of thing was inevitable, sooner or later. It should give new urgency to space debris cleanup concepts and the ability to locate and deborbit nonfuntional satellites.

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