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Space Sanitation People Needed

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A privately owned U.S. communications satellite collided with a defunct Russian military satellite in the first such mishap in space, a U.S. military spokesman said on Wednesday.

The crash, which took place on Tuesday above Russia's Arctic north, involved a spacecraft of Iridium Satellite LLC and a Russian communications satellite, said Air Force Colonel Les Kodlick of the U.S. Strategic Command.

"We believe it's the first time that two satellites have collided in orbit," he said, calling the debris potentially a problem that could require more debris-avoidance maneuvers among space-faring nations.

The crash occurred at roughly 485 miles, Kodlick said, an altitude used by satellites that monitor weather, relay communications and perform scientific observations.

"It's a very important orbit for a lot of satellites" and highlighted a need for improved awareness of events taking place in space, Kodlick said.

The command's Joint Space Operations Center is tracking 500 to 600 new bits of debris, some as small as 4 inches across, in addition to the 18,000 or so other man-made objects it previously catalogued in space, Kodlick said.


Among the 18,000-plus objects being tracked in space by the U.S. Strategic Command are operational and defunct satellites, spent rocket boosters and debris.


"It takes a while for the debris to spread out and for us to get an accurate head count," he said. NASA receives orbital tracking services from the Defense Department and regularly maneuvers its spacecraft to avoid debris.

The top priority is guarding the International Space Station, which orbits at about 220 miles, substantially below the collision.

Get someone up there to collect all that debris!!!

U.S., Russian satellites collide in space

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