Satellite, missile body misses impact by just 20 feet in what could have been worst-case scenario
A “worst-case scenario” was thwarted Friday when two large chunks of space debris narrowly missed each other, according to Leo Labs.
LeoLabs said the debris included the defunct satellite Cosmos 2361 and an SL-8 rocket body, two of countless pieces of space debris currently in low Earth orbit.
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According to NASAobjects in low Earth orbit (or LEO) refer to objects orbiting our planet at an altitude of 2000 km or less.
On Friday, Cosmos 2381 and the SL-8 missile body nearly collided at an altitude of about 984 km.
LeoLabs determined that the two pieces of space debris missed each other by about 20 feet, with a margin of error of only a few tens of feet.
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“We’ve identified this kind of collision — between two massive decayed objects — as a ‘worst case scenario’ because it’s largely beyond our control and will likely result in a ripple effect of dangerous collision encounters,” LeoLabs said in a statement. tweet.
They said that if the Cosmos 2381 and the SL-8 missile body had crashed into each other, the collision would have resulted in thousands of new debris fragments that would persist for decades.
This near-collision is important because it illustrates how much space debris is floating around in low Earth orbit.
According to LeoLabs, that is a layer of the LEO only about 62 miles thick contains an estimated 160 SL-8 missile bodies, along with their 160 payloads, which were deployed more than 20 years ago.
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This “bad neighborhood” in the LEO, LeoLabs said, is between elevations of 950 and 1,050 km and remains a hotspot for debris collisions.
These collisions and near misses in LEO remain top of mind for many.
Because not only are they populated with defunct space debris, the LEO region is also considered a close enough area Soil for convenient transportation, communication, observation and resupply, according to NASA.
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In fact, LEO is where the International Space Station currently orbiting the Earth and where many proposed future platforms will be located.
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