A cloud of debris has been sent spinning into space after a collision that destroyed two orbiting satellites.
An American communications satellite was hit by a defunct Russian military satellite causing wreckage which could threaten the safety of the manned international space station. The risk is said to be small but experts fear the Hubble space telescope and Earth observing satellites are at greater risk of damage as they are at higher orbits and closer to the altitude at the point of impact. Independent military analyst Alexander Golts said: “During half of the century of space exploration the near space has been filled with immense amounts of space debris. At the moment there are up to 18 or 20 thousand objects of various sorts there.” The collision happened 800 kilometres above Siberia. The American Joint Operations Center is tracking the debris cloud. It is hoped most of it will burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere. The EU, which has just initiated its own space surveillance programme, has released a statement calling on leading nations to accept a code of conduct for civil and military activities in space.