'Less than 10% Chance' Estonia's First Satellite Will Be Destroyed ({{commentsTotal}})

The first image of Earth from Estonia's satellite. Source: Photo: University of Tartu

A collision with space junk could end Estonia's student satellite mission Friday morning, the US Joint Space Operations Center has said.

A cloud of old satellite debris is in the way of ESTCube-1, which was launched on May 7 and is currently orbiting the Earth at 7.5 km per second, ERR radio reported. ESTCube-1 team leader Mart Noorma said the warning from the Americans is a serious one.

"Tomorrow at 7:40 on August 2, the trajectory of ESTCube-1 will intersect [...] a cloud of space junk that formed four years ago as a consequence of the collision of the Iridium communication satellite and the Russian military communication satellite Strela-2M," Noorma said on Thursday.

He said that "not much" would be left of the nano satellite, which measures just 10 centimeters to a side. "Although both objects are small and light, their speed is immense - [...] 2,700 kph. Square that number and you get an idea of the force of the impact that will result," said Noorma.

Such an impact would have a force equivalent to 14,000 bullets hitting a target simultaneously.

Estonia would not be the first to have its maiden satellite destroyed by collision with orbiting junk. Ecuador, which made it to space a few weeks before Estonia, lost its nano satellite, the Pegaso, on May 23.

Noorma pegged the chance of a collision at under 10 percent. The first chance for the team to check whether the satellite survived will be at 10:07 on Friday when ESTCube-1 passes over Estonia.

+{{cc.replyToName}} {{cc.body}}
No comments yet.
Logged in as {{user.alias}}. Log out
Login failed

Register user/reset password

Name needs to be fewer than 32 characters long
Comment needs to be fewer than 600 characters long


Independence Day: Estonia’s way into the future isn’t a race

There is a lack of connection between the Estonian state, and the people who live here. While it expects a lot of the state, Estonian society doesn’t seem ready to contribute, writes Viktor Trasberg.

Lotman: Security academy would be crucial Estonian identity point in Narva

In an opinion piece published by Eesti Päevaleht, Tallinn University professor Mihhail Lotman found it important to overcome the mental barrier separating Ida-Viru County from the rest of Estonia.