Friday, February 13, 2009

Satellite crash - the news just keeps getting worse.

At first we just think "Oops! That was an unfortunate and expensive incident." Now as more details come out about the satellite collision, we find that the situation just gets more serious and could affect many more spacecraft. First, the remaining Iridium satellites are all in the same orbital altitude as the accident victims, so there are parts flying through that orbit which will eventually spread like a cloud of dust. This will put the Iridium system in danger since parts could eventually impact and destroy or damage the other satellites. This creates a chain reaction, on more gets hit, parts fly off, hits another, more parts fly....
It's a lot worse than just ducking under a flock of geese in an Airbus A320!
So the latest bad news is that the Hubble cold be in danger, as well as the astronauts going on the final upgrade mission. Here is a quote from ABC News website:

The already hobbled Hubble Space Telescope could be further harmed by space debris from Wednesday's unprecedented satellite collision, a chief NASA scientist told ABC News. There has always been a small risk that Hubble and other spacecraft could be damaged by the thousands of pieces of junk floating through space. But now that the space telescope is orbiting 75 miles below where the collision took place, experts say the risk is much greater. "Clearly debris from the event is going through the altitude that the Hubble flies, so we're going to be looking at what is the new risk to Hubble," said Nicholas Johnson, chief scientist at the Orbital Debris Office at NASA's Johnson Space Center.

1 comment:

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