Satellite Collision Update: New Information and Images

Two communications satellites have crashed in space, leaving orbiting debris that could threaten the International Space Station.

Satellite Collision: New Details

One satellite was an American Iridium satellite, used to provide communications for the data services company. It weighed 1,200 pounds and was more than 12 feet in length. The second satellite was a nonoperational Russian device. No further details are known about its previous purpose.

The two satellites crashed about 490 miles above northern Siberia on Tuesday and immediately cracked into pieces. Scientists say this is the first time a satellite collision of this magnitude has occurred.

Satellite Collision: Space Station Impact

Investigators believe the threat to the International Space Station is now small, though they say it’s still too soon to know how many fragments are still floating around. Early estimates put the number at “many, many dozens, if not hundreds.”

NASA officials say some of the debris is already near the station’s altitude. They remain confident, however, they’ll be able to avoid the pieces if need be.

“We’ll just dodge them if we have to,” an official tells The New York Times. “It’s the small things you can’t see that are the ones that can do you harm.”

International Space Station controllers say they’ve now tweaked the station’s orbit to make sure it doesn’t cross paths with the debris.

Satellite Collision: Video Report

The following video report from Russian news agency Russia Today provides more details, as well as additional images of the satellites involved in the collision.