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US, Russian Satellites Collide, NASA Says

Posted February. 13, 2009 03:43,   


Iridium, a commercial U.S. communications satellite, and Cosmos, a Russian communications satellite, collided 790 kilometers above northern Siberia, NASA said yesterday.

The Wall Street Journal said the crash created two debris clouds that pose a safety risk to other satellites and the International Space Station, which flies in an orbit below the impact height.

There have been four collisions of objects in space, but this is the first satellite collision. Iridium weighed about 560 kilograms and Cosmos 950 kilograms. NASA said Iridium was operational but Cosmos had been nonoperational for several years.

Since the launch of Sputnik I by the Soviet Union in 1957, 3,000 of 6,000 launched satellites have remained in operation. NASA said roughly 17,000 pieces of space debris larger than 10 centimeters exist.