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Wow. Talk about low-probability. An Iridium phone satellite (an active one) and a defunct soviet Cosmos satellite, both in polar orbits which were nearly perpendicular to one another, smacked into one another on Tuesday afternoon. That’s never, ever, ever happened before (no active satellites, or even defunct ones, have ever collided before). I mean, there’s a lot of room up there.

Of course, now you have over 500 pieces big enough to track (and who knows how many smaller bits of shrapnel below the 10cm mark), spinning round in a collection of orbits at a particularly useful altitude. And of course, if anything big enough to smash something hits that something, there’s another 500 pieces… they’ve had this as a nightmare scenario for a few decades now in the space sciences.… Read the rest

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