An explosion of an artificial object in Earth orbit was reported by the 18th U.S. Space Defense Squadron on Tuesday, May 3, in its Twitter account. According to the organization, object No. 32398 collapsed on April 15. The organization continues to monitor the movement of the 16 module fragments that have been identified.
— 18th Space Defense Squadron (@18thSDS) May 3, 2022
According to astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, object #32398 is the engine of the rocket upper stage launch support system that orbited three GLONASS satellites back in 2007.
The researcher notes that these satellites were launched on the Russian Proton rocket. At the same time, two small engines of the launch support system were installed on the upper stage of the rocket. The task of these mechanisms is to slightly accelerate the motion of the rocket stages to ensure the correct location of the fuel in the tanks during the restart of the engine.
“The launch support system (LSS) engines don’t use up all of their fuel at launch. And they have a nasty tendency to explode years or decades later, leaving a pile of debris in highly elliptical orbit. At least 54 POP engines have exploded so far,” McDowell noted on Twitter.
Space debris is a growing problem for satellite operators and mission planners. According to the European Space Agency (ESA), there are about 36,500 debris fragments larger than 10 centimeters and at least a million objects between 1 and 10 centimeters in Earth orbit. Previously Haytek told what it could be dangerous.
Cover photo: ESA/ID&Sense/ONiRiXEL
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