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What’s New: An article reminding us of one of the lesser publicized hazards to objects in space.

Why It’s Important: 

  • The U.S. has more satellites and is more reliant on space than any other nation.
  • The U.S. is far-over reliant on space for PNT.  In the words of one director at the National Security Council “GPS is a single point of failure” for America.
  • 19 per cent of all space debris is in Medium Earth Orbit where GPS and other GNSS reside.
  • See Kessler Syndrome
  • China isn’t the biggest contributor to space debris (see below).

What Else to Know: The major contributors* to trackable space debris are:

  1. Russia  7,000 +
  2. U.S.A.   5,216
  3. China    3,845
  4. Japan       520
  5. France      117
  6. India         114
  7. EU             60
  8. UK               1

* NASA Data as of Feb 2022. 


Space Force Still Dodging Chinese Satellite Debris

By Josh Luckenbaugh

Anti-satellite attacks not only have consequences for the space vehicle itself, but can cause problems for other systems in orbit for years, and even decades, to come.

In January 2007, China conducted an anti-satellite test, destroying a non-operational weather satellite with a ballistic missile. The destruction created a cloud of more than 3,000 pieces of space debris, according to a Secure World Foundation fact sheet.

The 2007 Chinese test “created problems and still is creating problems,” Chief of Space Operations Gen. B. Chance Saltzman said during a Center for a New American Security event. In 2021, the International Space Station was forced to make an evasion maneuver to dodge debris created by the test.

Saltzman recalled a recent visit to the 19th Space Defense Squadron “that does conjunction assessment, which is anytime two satellites get too close together for flight safety, you have to notify the users.”

“The top collision avoidance maneuver that they were proposing was because of a piece of debris from the Fengyun satellite that was shot down in 2007,” he said. “So that’s 16 years ago, and we are still deconflicting debris from that event.”