Feeds

Satellites crash over Siberia: Iridium bird destroyed

Orbital frag up by 3%: conspiracy theories, 100

Remote control for virtualized desktops

A defunct Russian satellite has collided in orbit with another from the Iridium satcomms fleet, according to reports. Both spacecraft were wrecked, creating two large clouds of hazardous high-speed debris. The International Space Station (ISS) is not thought to be in danger, however.

The Guardian quotes US air force colonel Les Kodlick as saying that the American military is tracking an additional 500 to 600 pieces of orbital debris as a result of the collision, adding to the 18,000 other objects already logged.

"We believe it's the first time that two satellites have collided in orbit," the colonel added.

The collision reportedly took place at 1655 GMT on Tuesday, at an altitude of 490 miles above Siberia.

The Russian satellite was a Cosmos telecoms bird launched in 1993 and no longer in service. The other sat dated from 1997 and was an active part of the Iridium network, which was originally intended to be the world's first global mobile phone system. However, GSM roaming beat Iridium to the punch and the network went bankrupt before being reborn with US government backing.

Iridium does have advantages over other satcomms systems, however, as it requires only a small antenna rather than a dish or other directional apparatus. It is critical to many specialist applications today - many of them involving the military and intelligence communities, perhaps giving a clue as to why the US government was so keen to revive the system.

The Iridium Satellite corporation told AFP that it expected only minor outages as a result of the collision.

"This satellite loss may result in very limited service disruption in the form of brief, occasional outages," the firm said, adding that the company expects to have a network solution in place by Friday, and will move one of its in-orbit spares to permanently replace the destroyed satellite within 30 days.

NASA officials said that the ISS was not thought to be in significant danger as it orbits at an altitude of 220 miles, well below that of the satellite wreckage clouds. Should any debris threaten the space station, it has the ability to manoeuvre so as to avoid being struck: this has already happened on eight occasions.

The event seems sure to provide excellent conspiracy-theory fodder at any rate. Just for starters, here's one: the Russians deliberately rammed the Iridium sat to prevent a particular satphone call/tracker-bug message/submarine data upload getting through.®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs
FORGET the CLIMATE: FATTIES are a MUCH BIGGER problem - study
Fat guy? Drink or smoke? You're worse than a TERRORIST
Rosetta probot drilling DENIED: Philae has its 'LEG in the AIR'
NOT best position for scientific fulfillment
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
HUMAN DNA 'will be FOUND ON MOON' – rockin' boffin Brian Cox
Crowdfund plan to stimulate Blighty's space programme
Post-pub nosh neckfiller: The MIGHTY Scotch egg
Off to the boozer? This delicacy might help mitigate the effects
I'M SO SORRY, sobs Rosetta Brit boffin in 'sexist' sexy shirt storm
'He is just being himself' says proud mum of larger-than-life physicist
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Managing SSL certificates with ease
The lack of operational efficiencies and compliance pitfalls associated with poor SSL certificate management, and how the right SSL certificate management tool can help.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.