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The Chinese satellite, was hit by a Russian rocket in March


In the era of the formation of successive mega-constellations of satellites in orbit around the Earth, and thus the avalanche increase in the number of objects orbiting the Earth, the risk of collisions of such objects is constantly discussed. However, as long as we use the words "may come", "threatens" or "there is a risk", somehow no one takes it seriously.


On March 18, 2020, the United States Space Force announced that it had successfully recorded the disintegration of the Chinese military satellite Yunhai 1-02, which had been in orbit just 1.5 years earlier. So far, however, it has not been known whether any of the tanks on board the spacecraft exploded or if the cause of its damage was different.


Astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell of the Harvard-Smithsonian Astrophysics Center, who monitors satellites in orbit around the Earth, recently noticed new information in the Air Force system that allowed us to unravel the mystery of the destruction of Yunhai 1-02.


Next to the object marked with the number 48078 in the catalog, the comment "collision with the satellite" appeared. 48078 is a small object measuring 10-50 cm in size, which is a shard of the Zenit-2 rocket that hit space in 1996.


The analysis of the orbit of this object showed that on March 18 this year. Object 48078 was at an altitude of 780 km, where Yunhai 1-02 was, so it was most likely that it had collided with the Chinese satellite. After the collision, the Air Force registered more than thirty fragments from the collision, and it must be assumed that there were also many more smaller fragments that remained beyond the resolution range of the tracking systems.


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