A mockup of an Iridium satellite
|Operator||Iridium Satellite LLC|
|Launch mass||700 kilograms (1,500 lb)|
|Start of mission|
|Launch date||14 September 1997|
|Launch site||Baikonur 81/23|
|End of mission|
|Destroyed||10 February 2009, 16:56 UTC|
Collision with Kosmos 2251
|Perigee||779.6 kilometres (484.4 mi)|
|Apogee||793.9 kilometres (493.3 mi)|
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.It was operated in Plane 3 of the Iridium satellite constellation, with an ascending node of 230.9°.
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.
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.NASA reported that a large amount of space debris was produced by the collision.
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.
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Initially, the term space debris referred to the natural debris found in the solar system: asteroids, comets, and meteoroids. However, with the 1979 beginning of the NASA Orbital Debris Program, the term also refers to the debris from the mass of defunct, artificially created objects in space, especially Earth orbit. These include old satellites and spent rocket stages, as well as the fragments from their disintegration and collisions.
1971 saw the last three known deaths of cosmonauts of the Soviet space program and the only deaths in space. Their mission was to man humanity's first space station. The experimental bay door failed to separate so the first crew failed to dock and second crew were killed on re-entry. 1971 also saw the launch of the first and only British satellite on top of a British rocket after that success the program was cancelled.
The Iridium satellite constellation provides L-band voice and data coverage to satellite phones, pagers and integrated transceivers over the entire Earth surface. Iridium Communications owns and operates the constellation, additionally selling equipment and access to its services. It was originally conceived by Bary Bertiger, Raymond J. Leopold and Ken Peterson in late 1987 and then developed by Motorola on a fixed-price contract from July 29, 1993 to November 1, 1998, when the system became operational and commercially available.
On February 10, 2009, two artificial satellites, Iridium 33 and Kosmos-2251, accidentally collided at a speed of 11,700 m/s and an altitude of 789 kilometres (490 mi) above the Taymyr Peninsula in Siberia. It was the first time a hypervelocity collision occurred between two satellites – until then, all accidental hypervelocity collisions had involved a satellite and a piece of space debris.
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Gorizont 33, also known as Gorizont 45L was a Russian communications satellite operated by Kosmicheskiya Svyaz. It was the last satellite to be launched as part of the Gorizont constellation. Constructed by NPO Prikladnoi Mekhaniki, it was based on the KAUR-3 satellite bus. Its launch was contracted by Khrunichev, using a Proton-K/Briz-M carrier rocket. The launch occurred at 02:59 GMT on 6 June 2000 from Site 81/24 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome.
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