Pentagon Warns Congress About Space Debris Threats to Satellites
[Satellite TODAY 05-27-10] Potential crashes between satellites and space debris may impact the $250 billion space-services market, according to a U.S. Defense Department Space Posture Review report released to the public May 26.
The report, the second debris report produced by the Pentagon since 2007, warned Congress that space collisions and debris might make some orbits unusable for commercial or military satellites. The report cited the February 2009 crash between a defunct Russian Cosmos satellite and an Iridium satellite. The crash left approximately 1,500 pieces of junk each capable of destroying more satellites as they orbit the Earth at 7.8 kilometers per second. A Chinese missile test, which destroyed a satellite in January 2007, left 150,000 pieces of junk in the atmosphere.
According to the Space Posture Review, there are now more than 370,000 pieces of junk in space compared with 1,100 satellites. The Pentagon forecasts orbital congestion will worsen.