Satellites Crash Over Russia, Disrupt Portable Sat Phone Communications

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Two giant communications satellites crashed over Siberia, Russia, earlier this week, sending debris flying. In addition to the physical fall-out from the crash, communications for the Iridium portable satellite phone – or “satphone” – system which was serviced by one of the crashed satellites were disrupted.

While this is the first known crash of two fully intact satellites, it was, according to some, inevitable.

Said Mark Matney of the Johnson Space Center, “We knew this was going to happen eventually.”

The satellites involved in the crash were a functioning Iridium communications satellite, and a defunct Russian satellite. It is alleged that the Russian satellite was out of control.

NASA officials are quoted as saying that the risk to the space station from debris from the crash is minimal, however whether it may affect a planned upcoming space shuttle launch is open to question. According to an expert with the Houston space center, the even greater risk is to the Hubble telescope.

Just how many pieces of debris resulted from the crash is not yet known. “Right now, they’re definitely counting dozens. I would suspect that they’ll be counting hundreds when the counting is done,” added Matney.

In the meantime, there was a measurable disruption in the Iridium portable phone system. Iridium portable satellite phones are used by more than 300,000 subscribers, including the Department of Defense.

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One thought on “Satellites Crash Over Russia, Disrupt Portable Sat Phone Communications

  1. Iridium is back up and fully operational so no worries. They keep three spare satellites in orbit at all times just for this type of event.

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