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Debris From Russian Anti-Satellite Test Continues to Pose Risk to LEO Satellites

Space debris

Debris From Russian Anti-Satellite Test Continues to Pose Risk to LEO Satellites

Commercial space tracking firm COMSPOC said Russia’s recent anti-satellite weapon test will continue to pose future risks to global systems and low Earth orbit satellites, including the International Space Station.

The Nov. 15 test involved the intentional destruction of a defunct Russian satellite using a ground-based missile, resulting in the scattering of an estimated 1,500 pieces of debris into orbit.

COMSPOC identified the ISS as the 20th most imperiled spacecraft in the first 24 hours after the A-235/P-19 Nudol ASAT system’s interceptor smashed into Russia’s Cosmos 1408 satellite, Breaking Defense reported Tuesday.

Dan Oltrogge, COMSPOC’s integrated operations and research director, said the possibility of a catastrophic collision with the ISS will continue to grow over time as debris pieces spiral downward from the impact point into the Earth’s atmosphere.

He added that the space station’s size increases collision risks since there is more surface area for a potential debris strike.

The satellite that was most imperiled in the wake of the anti-satellite test was the DMSP 5D-3 F18, one of America’s four remaining Defense Meteorological Satellite Program weather satellites. The DMSP satellites, first launched in the 1960s, are already on the verge of being decommissioned and replaced by the Electro-Optical Infrared Weather System.

Oltrogge explained that, despite being exposed to immediate risks, the weather satellites will be less vulnerable to the debris pieces as they disperse. He clarified, however, that some pieces will remain a potential threat.

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Category: Space