Retired NOAA 17 satellite breaks up in orbit creating debris hazard then Yunhai 1-02 does the same

by | Mar 19, 2021 | Satellites, Science

At 0711 GMT on 10 March 2021, the retired NOAA 17 weather satellite broke up in orbit. So far 16 pieces of debris have been tracked. There is no indication that this break up was caused by a collision. Scientists are concerned that the debris may present a hazard to other spacecraft, especially over the Sun-synchronous near polar orbit that the satellite as in.  Such orbits – in this case with an apogee and perigee at circa 800 km – are located at the high end of the low Earth orbit altitudes and thus any debris will take many years to naturally decay.  As this debris decays (due to the small amount of atmospheric drag and gravitational perturbations etc) it becomes a “crossing” hazard to satellites in lower orbits.

Artist’s impression of NOAA-17 (NOAA-M). Courtesy: NASA

The 2.2 metric ton NOAA 17 meteorological satellite was launched in 2002. It was built by Lockheed Martin and uses the Advanced TIROS-N bus design. NOAA satellites using this design are known to have issues with exploding batteries causing debris.  After a long career in which it suffered various anomalies ranging from thruster issues to losses of major instruments, it was finally retired in 2013.

Update on 23 March 2021: A second satellite in sun-synchronous low Earth orbit has independently suffered a break up. The Chinese satellite Yunhai 1-02 (2019-063A) did so at 0741 GMT on 18 March 2021 with 21 associated pieces of debris initially tracked by US Space Command.

About Seradata

Seradata produce the renowned SpaceTrak Launch & Satellite Database. Trusted by 100 of the world’s leading Space organisations, SpaceTrak is a fully queryable database used for market analysis, failure/risk assessment, spectrum analysis and space situational awareness (SSA).

For more information go to www.seradata.com/spacetrak

Related Articles

Meteorological satellite YUNHAI 1-02 launched by China

Lifting-off at 0054 GMT, 25 September 2019, a Chinese Long March 2D/2 (CZ-2D/2) rocket has lifted the YUNHAI 1-02 meteorological Read more

James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) puts itself into Halo orbit around Sun-Earth L2

After a painstaking operation during its four weeks post-launch, engineers at NASA confirmed that the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) Read more

ESA confirms that Sentinel 1B’s radar is still knocked out by power issue

Sentinel-1B, a key Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) satellite of the ESA/EU Copernicus Earth observation and monitoring programme, has failed in Read more

To the relief of many, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope is launched successfully by Ariane 5

European launch provider Arianespace successfully launched an Ariane 5 ECA vehicle from Kourou Space Centre, French Guiana, at 1220 GMT Read more

SSTL of Guildford, Surrey, gets order from Satellite Vu

The Guildford UK-based satellite construction firm SSTL (Surrey Satellite Technology Limited),  which is part of Airbus Space and Defence, has Read more

NASA IXPE telescope mission is finally launched by a Falcon 9

A Falcon 9v1.2 Block 5 rocket successfully launched the IXPE - Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer mission for NASA on 8 Read more

Airbus selected to build ARIEL astronomical mission for ESA

European Space Agency (ESA) has selected Airbus DS to design and manufacture its fourth "Medium-class" Cosmic Vision mission. The Atmospheric Remote-sensing Read more

NASA gives Intuitive Machines contract to carry rovers and scientific payloads to lunar surface

NASA has awarded the Houson, Texas-based firm Intuitive Machines a US$77 million contract to deliver scientific and rover payloads to Read more

Categories

Archives

Tags

nasaspacexecoreviewsissesaArianespacevideochina25virgin galacticULAfalcon 9RoscosmosDGAaviation weekaresIGTsoyuzawardsBeidouspacespacewalkSatellite broadcastingmoonInternational Space StationevarussiaCargo Return VehicleBlue OriginmarsblogresearchboeingimpactAirbus DSspaceshiptwomarshyperboladelayjaxademocratISROobamaorionhypertextrocketgoogle lunar prizelunarVegalaunchtourismbarack obamaconstellationStarlinkfiguresEutelsatnorthRocket LabSESFalcon 9v1.2FT Block 5spaceflightnode 2fundedOneWebRaymond Lygorome2009Express MD-2Atlas Vthales alenia spacess2dassault aviation2008Lucywk2aviationElon MuskLockheed MartinIntelsatradioukexplorationtestmissiledocking portsstlinternetsuborbitalChina Manned Space Engineeringsts-1222010newspapercotsgalileoAriane 5flightmissile defensespaceportspace tourismExpress AMU 1Ariane 5 ECAaltairbuildspace stationProton MSLSshuttleIntelsat 23scaled compositesVirgin OrbitCosmosinternational astronautical congressEuropean Space AgencyrulesElectronbudgetnew yorkhanleyLauncherOneshenzhouspace shuttleatvVietnamboldenAriane 6congressMojaveGuiana Space CenterOrbital ATKNorthrop GrummaniackscSpace Systems/LoralUK Space AgencylawscnesUS Air ForceInmarsatILSprotonnew shepardsoyuz 2-1aTalulah RileyLong March 4CApollousadarpaSkyloneuAstriumastronautlanderLong March 4BpicturebasedragoneventLong March 2CSSLfiveWednesdayAprilinterviewSea Launchlunar landerfalconSNC50thlink7successorcustomeratlantisSpace InsuranceLong March 2D/2conferencenational space symposiumorbiterTelesat15