Recently, a Russian rocket and a dead spy satellite barely missed colliding-Experts say it was a near-disastrous event

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Many people have been asking, “Did a satellite crash today?” According to LeoLabs (low-Earth orbit Labs), there was no crashed satellite. Instead, on the morning of January 27, 2023, two massive, non-functioning objects in low-Earth orbit (LEO) narrowly missed one another. One was an SL-8 rocket in the sky (16511), and the other was Cosmos 2361 (25590). The two objects passed each other at an altitude of 984km. [i]

What were the two objects that almost collided?

The SL,-8 a part of the Kosmos-3 family of Soviet rockets, debuted in service in 1964, flying until 2009. The Cosmos 2361 was launched in 1998 and intercepted several electronic signals, including radio communications and radar transmission. [v] [vi]
Photo byLeoLabs

Where did the space debris almost collide?

Experts agree that the “worst-case scenario” was dodged. NASA defines LEO as “Earth-centered orbits with an altitude of 2,000km or less.” LEO is described as “the area in Earth [sic] orbit near enough to Earth for convenient transportation, communication, communication observation, and resupply. The International Space Station orbits in LEO. [ii]

How did the company discover the near-collision?

LeoLabs provides and maintain the operation of satellite tracking radars and the debris that could potentially endanger them. The company revealed that using their radar tracking data, they could compute that the two objects missed each other by just a little over 19 feet. [iii] [iv]

They also say the “worst-case scenario” would involve “a ripple effect of dangerous collisional encounters.” The collision “would’ve also resulted in thousands of new debris fragments that would have persisted for decades.” [iii]

LeoLabs urges that we “not only focus on collision avoidance but also debris mitigation and debris remediation.” The company informed the public that this requires “investing in debris removal technologies and missions,” as some space debris includes payloads from over 20 years ago. [vii]

For more information on Space debris collision events, watch the video below.

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[i] LeoLabs, Too close for comfort… (Jan. 27, 2023)

[ii] NASA, LEO Economy FAQs (2023)

[iii] Golden, LeoLabs (2023)

[iv] LeoLabs, Too close for comfort… (Jan. 27, 2023)

[v] Russian Space Web, Kosmos-3 rocket series (2023)

[vi] National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Cosmos 2361 (2023)

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