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The 18th United States Air Force Space Surveillance United States issued a statement on March 22 stating that the weather satellite Chinese Yunhai-1 02, launched in 2019, exploded and was divided into 21 pieces in a 780-kilometer orbit on March 18.

Four days before the statement, 18 SPCS had reported that the NOAA 17 meteorological satellite, launched in 2002 by the USA, exploded in the space on March 10 and produced 16 fragments.

The site iNews points out that the “competition between China and the United States is huge” and asks: “Are China and the United States secretly competing in space, testing their own anti-satellite weapons?”.

It is worth remembering that in 2007 the United States claimed that China used ballistic missiles to bring down a deactivated weather satellite 856 kilometers from the ground. In early 2020 the Americans established a new service called the Space Force, which is essentially a force used in satellite and anti-satellite operations.

Chinese satellite Yunhai-1 02 continues to function

To further intrigue, the Chinese satellite Yunhai-1 02 remains stable and sending a signal normally even after it exploded and was divided into 21 pieces.

“One of the possibilities raised is that some of the wreckage of the American satellite may have reached Yunhai-1 02. Although the chances are small, this possibility exists since NOAA 17 orbited at an altitude around 800 km, close to the altitude of the Yunhai-1 02, which orbited about 780 km from the ground ”, explained astronomer Marcelo Zurita for the report of Olhar Digital.

"The observation of the fragments of the two satellites in the coming days can help to determine the possible causes of fragmentation", he added, who is president of the Paraibana Association of Astronomy - APA; member of SAB - Sociedade Astronômica Brasileira; technical director of Bramon - Brazilian Meteorological Observation Network - and regional coordinator (Northeast) of Asteroid Day Brasil.

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Satellite and piece of a rocket intersect in space and almost cause a serious accident

On 9 April, the EUSST, a cooperation between European agencies for monitoring e tracking satellites, warned of the risk of collision between two objects.

The collision almost happened between the inactive American satellite OPS 6182 and a body of rocket Russian SL-8, seen here as a small luminous dot crossing the sky in the middle of the stars. According to astronomers' calculations, they passed within 10 meters of each other, which in celestial terms, is a very short distance.

The SL-8 rocket body (NORAD 12443) was the second stage of the Soyuz rocket launched on May 7, 1981 from the Plesetsk Space and Missile Complex in the then Soviet Union. In the image, for illustrative purposes only, the Soyuz TMA-13 ​​rocket launched in 2008.
The SL-8 rocket body (NORAD 12443) was the second stage of the Soyuz rocket launched on May 7, 1981 from the Plesetsk Space and Missile Complex in the then Soviet Union. In the image, for illustrative purposes only, the Soyuz TMA-13 ​​rocket launched in 2008.

The speed resulting from the collision would be 52.592 kilometers per hour, and would cause a catastrophe. According to our space columnist Marcelo Zurita, the debris would spread over a very large region, and could cause the cancellation of rocket launching and even damage to satellites orbiting the Earth.

The body of the SL-8 rocket was the second stage of the rocket Soyuz launched on May 7, 1981 in the then Soviet Union. OPS 6182 is a meteorological satellite that was operated by the United States Meteorological Defense Satellite Program. It was released on May 1, 1978, in California.

OPS 6182 is a meteorological satellite that was operated by the United States Department of Defense Meteorological Defense Satellite Program. It was launched on May 1, 1978 from Vandeberg Base in California. In the image, an artistic impression of the satellite. Credits: USAF
OPS 6182 is a meteorological satellite that was operated by the United States Department of Defense Meteorological Defense Satellite Program. It was launched on May 1, 1978 from Vandeberg Base in California. In the image, an artistic impression of the satellite. Credits: USAF

Luckily, the collision did not happen, but this risk is increasing because of the amount of space debris that accumulates in Earth's orbit.

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