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Smashed Iridium Satellite Replaced

March 10, 2009

On Monday, Iridium Satellite LLC said that it has moved a spare satellite into the orbit of the one that was destroyed during the collision with a Russian satellite a month ago.

The crash with the decommissioned Russian military communications satellite took place on February 9th.

Iridium said it had reconfigured its remaining 65 active satellites afterwards to cover the hole in the worldwide satellite-phone coverage left by the crash.

The Bethesda, Md. based company said on Monday, that it has permanently closed the gap with a spare that was already in orbit, bringing its fleet back to 66 active satellites.

The incident has shown the need for more “aggressive action” to track satellites and prevent collisions, according to Iridium.  They suggested expanding the sharing of information between the industry and the U.S. government, which could relieve the Air Force of the need to track commercial satellites.

NASA’s chief scientists for orbital debris, Nicholas L. Johnson, said that about 19,000 objects are present in low and high orbit around the Earth.  This figure includes about 900 satellites.

Image Caption: An artist’s rendering of an Iridium telecommunications satellite of the type destroyed in Tuesday’s collision with a Russian satellite. (Iridium)

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