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Russian Satellite Breakup Creates More Than 100 Pieces of Debris 

By Rachel Jewett | June 27, 2024
Representation of space debris.

Representation of space debris. Photo: ESA

U.S. Space Command confirmed that a defunct Russian satellite broke up in Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) on Wednesday, creating more than 100 pieces of debris. 

Space Command said the breakup took place on Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. MT. It was not clear why the satellite broke up, such as if it was the result of an anti-satellite test. 

The satellite, Resurs-P1 was a Russian Earth observation satellite launched in 2013, decommissioned in 2022. 

“USSPACECOM has observed no immediate threats and is continuing to conduct routine conjunction assessments to support the safety and sustainability of the space domain,” a news release said. 

NASA said in a statement that the International Space Station (ISS) crew was instructed to shelter in their spacecraft as a standard precaution after the satellite breakup. NASA said that crew monitored the debris path and the crew were cleared to resume normal operations after an hour. 

Space situational awareness (SSA) company LeoLabs confirmed it detected the event as well, reporting the roughly 6,000 kg satellite was in a nearly circular orbit at ~355 km at the time of the event. 

Russia previously tested an anti-satellite weapon against one of its own defunct satellites in orbit in 2021, an event that created 1,500 pieces of trackable debris.