Iridium 33

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Iridium 33
Iridium satellite.jpg
A mockup of an Iridium satellite
Mission type Communication
Operator Iridium Satellite LLC
COSPAR ID 1997-051C
SATCAT no. 24946
Spacecraft properties
Bus LM-700A
Manufacturer Lockheed Martin
Launch mass700 kilograms (1,500 lb)
Start of mission
Launch date14 September 1997 (1997-09-14)
Rocket Proton-K/DM2
Launch site Baikonur 81/23
Contractor ILS
End of mission
Destroyed10 February 2009, 16:56 (2009-02-10UTC16:57Z) UTC
Collision with Kosmos 2251
Orbital parameters
Reference system Geocentric
Regime Low Earth
Perigee 779.6 kilometres (484.4 mi) [1]
Apogee 793.9 kilometres (493.3 mi)
Inclination 86.4°
Period 100.4 minutes

Iridium 33 was a communications satellite launched by the United States for Iridium Communications. It was launched into low Earth orbit from Site 81/23 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome at 01:36 GMT on 14 September 1997, by a Proton-K carrier rocket with a Block DM2 upper stage. [2] [3] It was operated in Plane 3 of the Iridium satellite constellation, with an ascending node of 230.9°. [2]

Communications satellite artificial satellite designed for telecommunications

A communications satellite is an artificial satellite that relays and amplifies radio telecommunications signals via a transponder; it creates a communication channel between a source transmitter and a receiver at different locations on Earth. Communications satellites are used for television, telephone, radio, internet, and military applications. There are 2,134 communications satellites in Earth’s orbit, used by both private and government organizations. Many are in geostationary orbit 22,200 miles (35,700 km) above the equator, so that the satellite appears stationary at the same point in the sky, so the satellite dish antennas of ground stations can be aimed permanently at that spot and do not have to move to track it.

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

Iridium Communications Inc. is a publicly traded American company headquartered in McLean, Virginia. Iridium operates the Iridium satellite constellation, a system of 141 active satellites used for worldwide voice and data communication from hand-held satellite phones and other transceiver units. The Iridium network is unique in that it covers the whole Earth, including poles, oceans and airways, with 95 satellites launched so far. The satellites are frequently visible in the night sky as satellite flares, a phenomenon typically observed as short-lived bright flashes of light.


On 10 February 2009, at 16:56 GMT, Kosmos 2251 (a retired Strela satellite) and Iridium 33 collided, resulting in the destruction of both spacecraft. [4] NASA reported that a large amount of space debris was produced by the collision. [5] [6] [7] [8]

Kosmos 2251 Russian Strela-2M satellite

Kosmos-2251,, was a Russian Strela-2M communications satellite. It was launched into Low Earth orbit from Site 132/1 at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome at 04:17 UTC on 16 June 1993, by a Kosmos-3M carrier rocket. The Strela satellites had a lifespan of 5 years, and the Russian government reported that Kosmos-2251 cesed functioning in 1995. Russia was later criticised by The Space Review for leaving a defunct satellite in a congensted orbit, rather than deorbiting it. In response, Russia noted that they were not required to do so under international law. In any case, the KAUR-1 satellites had no propulsion system.

Strela is a Russian military communications satellite constellation operating in low Earth orbit.

NASA space-related agency of the United States government

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is an independent agency of the United States Federal Government responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aeronautics and aerospace research.

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Iridium satellite constellation satellite constellation providing voice and data coverage

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2009 satellite collision 2009 collision between the Iridium 33 and Cosmos-2251 satellites

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The LM-700 is a satellite bus which was built by Lockheed Martin between the mid-1990s and early 2000s. Typically used for low Earth orbit communications satellites, ninety nine were built, all but one for Iridium Satellite LLC. The exception was a technology development satellite for the United States Air Force, which was never launched. In addition, two boilerplate satellites were launched on a test flight of the Chinese Long March 2C rocket.

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  1. "Iridium 33 tracking details" . Retrieved 2019-02-04.
  2. 1 2 Wade, Mark. "Iridium". Encyclopedia Astronautica. Archived from the original on 2009-02-16. Retrieved 2009-02-12.
  3. Wade, Mark. "Proton". Encyclopedia Astronautica. Retrieved 2009-02-12.
  4. Iannotta, Becky (2009-02-11). "U.S. Satellite Destroyed in Space Collision". . Retrieved 2009-02-11.
  5. "2 orbiting satellites collide 500 miles up". Associated Press. 2009-02-11. Retrieved 2009-02-11.
  6. "Google Earth KMZ file of the debris". John Burns. 2009-03-05. Retrieved 2010-11-25.
  7. "U.S. Space debris environment and operational updates" (PDF). NASA. 2011-02-07. Retrieved 2011-08-25.
  8. "Javascript visualisation of Iridium 33 debris".