Decommissioned NOAA-17 satellite breaks down in orbit

One of the biggest concerns about space debris and decommissioned satellites orbiting the Earth is a collision. It appears that the satellites are moving very slowly when we see them in a video taken from a spacecraft or the ISS shared by NASA. However, satellites rotate at extremely high speeds, and even the smallest amount of debris can have catastrophic consequences for other satellites, the ISS and its crew. Recently, the NOAA-17 satellite which was decommissioned in 2013 broke in orbit.

The US Space Force’s 18th Space Control Squadron announced on March 18 that it had confirmed that the satellite broke on March 10. According to the squadron, it was tracking 16 debris associated with the satellite. The squadron also made it clear that there was no evidence that a collision caused the rupture.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration confirmed that the satellite had ruptured and the NASA Orbital Debris Program Office had notified it. NOAA says no threat is posed to the ISS or other critical space assets from debris at this time. The satellite in question was originally designated NOAA-M and launched in June 2002.

It operated for 11 years until it was officially decommissioned in April 2013. It is not known at this time what exactly caused the satellite to break in orbit. Steps were taken in 2013 when the satellite was taken out of service to make it as inert as possible. The team operating the satellite followed the federal government’s recommendations to passivate spacecraft at the end of their life by removing sources of energy that could lead to explosions.

Some are using the in-orbit satellite breakdown as another example of why governments around the world need to invest in active debris removal capacity to remove old satellites from orbit where they pose no risk of damage. pity. Simply pushing the satellites into Earth’s atmosphere would cause them to burn harmlessly on re-entry.