A bad Soviet satellite and Chinese rocket boosters almost collided in space

For a while this week, it looks like there may be an impact in orbit around the Earth between two pieces of space junk that could damage other satellites. Two pieces of space junk included a faulty Soviet satellite and a rejected Chinese booster rocket. Thursday night, the two were going towards each other and narrowly missed hitting.

A company called Leolabs, a private space-tracking company, uses ground-based radar to track space objects and predicted a chance for a collision of 10 percent or more. The company’s CEO said that while there was a high probability of a collision, the situation was not uncommon. The US military estimated a near zero percent chance of the objects colliding.

The military made its estimate based on data from the world’s largest radar and telescope network. Moriba Jah, a scientist at the University of Texas at Austin, is trying to raise public awareness of the widespread abundance of space junk. He says there is a constant risk of collision, and this latest synergy was the latest evidence of the need for an international effort to track space junk.

Jah says his data suggests that dozens of potential collisions are occurring at any given time. He also said that the faulty satellite and rocket boosters were expected to come within 72 meters of each other. However, he was also unable to determine whether the objects would collide until the incident passed.

The CEO of Leoblas said that his company wanted to bring awareness to the public about the event as both the items were larger and in a relatively cleaner classroom than those nearby. The company also wants to raise general awareness of the space debris problem to encourage the private sector to clean it up. He said that satellites fall within 100 meters of each other several times per week.