Collision is one of the biggest concerns about space junk and decommissioned satellites orbiting Earth. The satellites appear to move very slowly when we see them in a video taken from a spacecraft or the International Space Station that NASA shares. However, satellites are orbiting extremely high speeds, and even the smallest amount of debris can cause disastrous consequences for other satellites, the International Space Station, and its crew members. Recently, the NOAA-17 satellite that was decommissioned in 2013 has erupted into orbit.
The US Space Force’s 18th Space Observation Squadron Advertise On March 18, it confirmed that the satellite had been destroyed on March 10. According to the squadron, 16 pieces of debris associated with the satellite were being tracked. The swarm was also clear that there was no evidence that the collision caused the dislocation.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration confirmed that the satellite had crashed, and was reported to the NASA Orbital Debris Program Office. NOAA says there is no threat to the International Space Station or other critical space assets from debris at this time. The satellite in question was originally identified as NOAA-M and launched in June 2002.
It was in operation for 11 years until its official shutdown in April 2013. There is no word at the moment about why the satellite broke into orbit. Steps were taken in 2013 when the satellite was shut down to make it as idle as possible. The satellite operating team followed the federal government’s recommendations to shut down spacecraft at the end of their lives by removing energy sources that could lead to explosions.
Some are using the disintegration of a satellite in orbit as another example of why governments around the world need to invest in active debris removal capacity to get old satellites out of orbit where they pose no risk of damage. Simply pushing the satellites into Earth’s atmosphere would cause them to burn harmlessly during re-entry.