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Source: Space News
Published: February 2009

When Satellites Collide

Circulated: October 2, 2020

More than 2,500 military and commercial satellites orbit the earth. In the rare instances when satellites collide, they create space debris capable of damaging other satellites or the International Space Station.

In February 2009, the satellites Iridium 33 and Kosmos-2251 collided at 42,000 km/h (26,000 mph).

In July 2016, a piece of space debris hit Maxar’s WorldView-2 in 2016.

Today, there are 34,000 debris objects over 10 centimeters (4 inches) orbiting the earth. Despite calls for the mandatory disposal of defunct satellites, there is no international agreement that exists.

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