Chinese anti-satellite weapon test debris hits Russian satellite

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Reports say that debris from China’s Fengyun 1C meteorological satellite destroyed in an anti-satellite weapons test (ASAT) in 2007 may have hit and severely damaged a Russian spacecraft on January 22.

Space.com reports that T.S. Kelso, technical program manager at the Center for Space Standards & Innovation (CSSI) in Colorado Springs, said that analysis by the center showed that a piece of Chinese space junk and Russia’s 17-pound small Ball Lens in The Space (BLITS) retroreflector satellite were involved in a collision that may have severely damaged the Russian craft.

The Russian craft, launched in 2009, is a nano-satellite built for precision satellite laser ranging experiments, and it was expected to last five years in space.

According to Space.com, ever since the January 11, 2007 anti-satellite test in which the Chinese deliberately destroyed their Fengyun 1C meteorological satellite that had exceeded its service life, the resulting debris has posed a threat to satellites and crewed spacecraft.

Space.com reports that Russian scientists Vasiliy Yurasov and Andrey Nazarenko of the Institute for Precision Instrument Engineering (IPIE) in Moscow first reported evidence of the collision on February 4. Their report to the CSSI noted a “significant change” in the orbit of the BLITS satellite.

The Russian scientists’ preliminary analysis found that the change in the orbit of the satellite occurred on Jan. 22 at 2:57 a.m. EST (0757 GMT).

Kelso said that the Russian scientists requested help from the CSSI to determining “whether these changes might have been the result of a collision with another object in orbit.”

Reports say it is uncertain whether the Russian satellite has merely been slightly damaged or completely incapacitated.

Read more: Digital Journal