January 28, 2023


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Na orbicie pojawiły się kolejne kosmiczne śmieci (fot. Shutterstock/Frame Stock Footage)

A Russian rocket exploded in space in Earth orbit, a space drag engine

An old Russian engine has exploded in orbit, causing more space debris. Only now was the incident reported in mid-April. The object that exploded was the Ullage engine from a space locomotive.

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The event was reported by the US 18th Space Defense Squadron via Twitter. According to the published information, the object, categorized as #32398, broke up on April 15th. The squadron added that sixteen space debris that arose after this event are currently being tracked.

According to journalist and author of RussianSpaceWeb.com – Anatoly Zak – the object in question was the Ullage engine from a space tug that helped launch three Russian GLONASS satellites in 2007, That is, the satellites that support the Russian satellite navigation system that covers the entire globe.

According to astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell, of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, the GLONASS satellites were launched into orbit by a Russian Proton rocket, which in the upper stage had two small auxiliary engines.

SOZ engines do not consume all fuel at takeoff. And they have an unfortunate tendency to explode years or decades later, leaving debris in a very elliptical orbitMcDowell explained on Twitter.

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So far at least 54 engines have exploded.

The European Space Agency (ESA) estimates that about 36,000. Space debris with a diameter of at least 10 cm and about one million objects between 1 and 10 cm in diameter are currently orbiting the Earth.

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