space debris


Russian Rocket Body Seen as a Streak over Arizona

, co-director and senior scientist

A fireball seen in the sky over the western U.S. got a lot of press attention today, with people wondering what it was and whether it was a threat.

The U.S. military, which tracks objects in space, said that it was caused by the reentry into the atmosphere of the empty stage of a Russian SL-4 rocket body, which apparently had been launched a day earlier. Read more >

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Russia’s Small Maneuvering Satellites: Inspectors or ASATs?

, senior scientist

In May, Russia announced it had launched three Russian communications satellites, Kosmos-2496, -2497, -2498. An additional object was along for the ride, orbiting a few kilometers away from the declared payloads. Without a declared name, this satellite was subsequently classified as debris by the U.S. space surveillance system. Read more >

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Visualizing the UCS Satellite Database

, senior scientist

Quartz created an interactive visualization using the UCS Satellite Database data called “The World Above Us: This is every active satellite orbiting the earth.” It shows all the satellites in the database, with their image size proportional to their launch mass, set in altitude bands. You can pull up relevant details on each satellite, and set them in motion. You can highlight different populations (spy sats, type of user, etc.)

quartz satellites

A still image from the Quartz interactive website.

It’s a real pleasure to see someone take your work (in this case, primarily the work of Database researcher Teri Grimwood) and make something beautiful and useful from it.

 

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Space Debris, Satellites, and a Reality Check

, senior scientist

One strange effect of the seven Oscar wins yesterday for Alfonso Cuarón’s film Gravity is that many more people will be conversant about something that was mostly the kind of thing specialists talked about—just how damaging space debris from anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons can be. In Gravity, astronauts played by Sandra Bullock and George Clooney struggle for their lives after debris from a satellite destroyed on-orbit by Russia threatens the space shuttle and space station. Read more >

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Strategic Options for Chinese Space Science and Technology

, China project manager and senior analyst

Last spring the Chinese Academy of Science (CAS) produced a report that included a lengthy section on the future of Chinese space science and technology. A translation with commentary is now available on the UCS website.

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