12 February 2009

american and russian satellites collide

on tuesday 10 february 2009, around 500 miles [805 km] above siberia, a satellite owned by american satellite phone company, iridium satellite llc [press release on crash .pdf], collided with a non-functional russian military satellite.

each satellite weighed more than a thousand pounds [454 kg] and was traveling at 20,000 mph
[32,186 kph] which is 6 miles [10 km] a second.

charles vick with globalsecurity.org says that the collision "would have created thousands of pieces of debris, that would have scattered in many different directions."

the debris poses an "elevated risk" to the international space station which carries two americans and a russian.

according to a u.s. military official who cnn didnt identify: "a piece of debris the size of a paint chip could significantly damage a space shuttle because of the speeds involved."