News agencies are reporting that Ecuador’s first satellite — a micro sat launched aboard a Chinese rocket — has fallen victim to Russian Space junk.
Read a story here: http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2013-05/24/ecuador-satellite-crash
The satellite’s fate was ascertained by airmen working for Peterson Air Force Base’s Air Force Space Command.
Air Force Space Command’s Joint Space Operations Center in California tracks more than 16,000 objects in orbit around Earth, 87 percent of which are pieces of space trash — from dead satellites and old boosters to debris created in China’s 2007 anti-satellite missile test.
Collisions in space are most often spectacular — picture a head-on highway wreck at 18,000 mph.
Concerns abound about America’s ability to keep track of all that junk in light of budget cuts. Space Command is limiting use of some systems, including the ultra-powerful space-observing Cavalier Air Force Station, N.D., to save on utility bills.
Tracking all that space junk allows the Air Force to move military satellites and warn NASA and civilian space users of threats.
The worry these days is that the Air Force will run out of cash needed to conduct the 500,000 observations a day that keep space relatively safe as the Pentagon slashes up to $100 billion per year for the next decade.