Backup Header Below

This week’s destroyed Russian satellite created even more dangerous space debris

Early in the morning of November 15, Moscow time, a Russian missile blasted a Russian satellite to smithereens. The destroyed satellite, Kosmos-1408, had been in orbit for nearly four decades. With at least 1,500 trackable pieces, and countless more too small for detection, the remains of Kosmos-1408 pose a threat to other objects in orbit. The destruction itself caused astronauts and cosmonauts aboard the International Space Station to shelter in space. It also risked harm to China’s taikonauts aboard the Tiangong space station.

Because the ISS orbits the Earth every 90 minutes, it repeatedly passes through or near the debris cloud, with the shelter-in-place order in effect for the second and third passes near the debris.

The destruction of Kosmos-1408, along with the creation of a debris field, showcased a kind of Earth-launched anti-satellite weapon. The quantity of debris, combined with the altitude at which it was destroyed, risks harm to all satellites and space stations for the conceivable future.

Here is what we know of the incident.

Kosmos-1408 was a Soviet satellite, put into orbit in 1982 and used to listen for radio signals on the Earth below. This is part of the more mundane work of surveillance satellites, which were one of the major ways nations used objects in orbit for military ends. Long before there was a Space Force, the militaries capable of satellite launches used them to keep track of the world below.

With a mass of about 4,400 lbs, the Kosmos-1408 was large enough to create a field of debris when destroyed.

Anti-satellite missiles, or ASATs, are one of the most straightforward ways for a nation to destroy an object in orbit. This one appears to have been an A-235 / PL-19 Nudol ASAT system, launched from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome some 500 miles north of Moscow and about 400 miles northeast of Saint Petersburg. Russia had tested the Nubol missile at least 10 times before, but this marks the first time it was used against a satellite.

Source :

    Other Press Releases