Chinese Satellite Close Call

Source: China’s Space Debris Monitoring and Application Center tracking of the satellite and debris – provided by CNN.

Orbiting the Earth is complicated enough without the Russians and other creating new obstacles. China recently learned about these hazards when one of its science satellites came close to colliding with debris created last November from a Russian anti-satellite test. China’s satellite missed the debris by about 48 feet, which the Chinese government called “extremely dangerous.” No kidding.

That same debris has threatened the International Space Station as well, which Russia also funds and occupies. It is not clear why Russia would endanger its own cosmonauts residing on the station.

That said, it is interesting that China is upset with Russia after similarly creating space debris back in 2007 part of its own anti-satellite experiments. The space community was similarly frustrated with the impact on orbiting spacecraft. In fact, the ISS had to dodge that debris as well last November.

Everyone’s spacecraft are at risk when we test weapons in space. We have to decide if we want to conduct science or simply give way to orbiting debris forevermore.