Russia Blew Up One of Its Satellites, Creating Dangerous Space Debris
It’s a reminder of a growing threat to our future in space
Earlier this month, a Russian satellite called Kosmos 1408 exploded, resulting in a cloud of debris that endangered the International Space Station (ISS) and the safety of its seven astronauts.
The explosion was no accident.
The Russian military destroyed Kosmos 1408 using an anti-satellite missile fired from the ground. Upon impact, the old craft shattered into thousands of pieces of space junk that began to race around the earth at high speeds.
The problem with space debris is its destructive power. An object the size of a can of soda can inflict the same damage as 15 pounds of TNT — enough power to pierce through the most solid metallic structures ever built.
That’s why the ISS mission controllers asked their crew to shelter inside a ready-to-leave ship as soon as they detected the debris. For the ISS astronauts, the operation was like waiting for a storm to pass. Except, the storm kept coming back every 93 minutes, the time the space station takes to make a revolution around our planet.
Space observers reported that the most dangerous encounter was the first one, and it lasted around four minutes.
“I’m outraged by this irresponsible and destabilizing action,” said Bill Nelson, the administrator of NASA. “With its long and storied history in human spaceflight, it is unthinkable that Russia would endanger not only the American and international partner astronauts on the ISS, but also their own cosmonauts.”
Two members of the ISS crew were Russians, and luckily, their nationality didn’t affect the teamwork in and outside the station.
“Thanks for a crazy but well-coordinated day,” said NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei when addressing mission controllers. “We really appreciate all the situational awareness you gave us, and it was certainly a great way…