Thursday, 12 February 2009

In Memoriam: Iridium 33

On 10 February 2009 at 16:56:00 UTC, Iridium 33 (97-051C) collided in orbit with the defunct Russian Kosmos 2251 satellite (93-036A). The collision occurred at 789 km altitude over the Siberian arctic, near 97.9 E, 72.5 N, with an orbital interception angle of 83.5 degrees. A cloud of rapidly spreading debris is now all that remains.

The collision occured at roughly the same altitude as the Chinese ASAT test on Fengyun 1C, and the resulting scenario for the debris cloud will be roughly similar to the latter event. An analysis of the Fengyun 1C debris field formation by Kelso can be read here.

On May 18th 2007, when Iridium 33 was still happy, alive and flaring, I shot the picture below:

(click image to enlarge)


Thomas said...

well - again lots of orbital debris occuring.

a live simulation (waiting on catalogued debris) can be found here

(COSMOS 2421 debris can be found, too)

Jim said...

Rest in pieces Iridium 33....

Happy said...

Hi!! nice blog! Great subject matter :-)

Maybe you can help identify the double-satellite we saw from New Zealand.

Some people have speculated on USENET... but not many educated guesses... ho hum.