New analysis on Russian anti-satellite test that generated space debris

On November 15, the Russian army conducted a anti-satellite test who disintegrated Satellite Cosmos 1408 generating a myriad of space debris. There were many words of condemnation for this action also due to the potential risk of damage to structures such as the ISS and CSS that have humans on board.


Fortunately, apart from some initial apprehensions, the current situation seems to have almost normalized even though I fragments of the Russian satellite they are still in orbit and are tracked day by day. This will allow all entities/agencies/individuals to know where they are and put procedures in place to avoid them. The return of most of the debris is expected within the next few years.

Space debris from the mid-November Russian anti-satellite test

In a detailed article written by Marco Langbroeck we can know the current status of the satellite space debris Cosmos 1408. The Combined Space Operations Center reportedly began publishing data from the first cataloged fragments.


We are currently at 207 (although other detections they found 239) but the number is expected to increase in the coming weeks. About 35% of the debris listed has a perigee at the same altitude or slightly below that of the ISS, 18% is under the orbits of space stations while many debris is at altitudes between 500 km and 700 km. This section of space is used for many satellites in LEO orbit (and therefore potentially at risk).

Reduced Russian debris scatter?

Langbroek he also cross-checked the data with other recent anti-satellite test (ASAT) by India and the United States. From the information deducible from the parameters, it seems that the Russian ASAT test rocket did not have a frontal impact with the satellite but rather a rear impact (following part of its trajectory). This reduced the kinetic energies involved by altering the distribution of debris and their velocity. Additionally, an explosive charge may have been employed rather than the collision kill technique.


This information (unconfirmed by the Russians) would have limited the dispersal of space debris of the anti-satellite test. It could have mitigated its danger, although of course it wouldn’t have been reset. As reminded Langbroek “That in itself is commendable, but it doesn’t make this test any less reckless or irresponsible”. The orbits involved by the debris cloud range from 200 km to 1200 km with the highest density between 400 km and 700 km, where the CSS, ISS and many satellites are located.

anti-satellite test

End of november Roscosmos he also pointed out the need for a procedure to remove the ISS from space debris. In this case, however, it was pointed out that it was a fragment of a second stage of a Falcon 9. This communication strategy would seem to want to remind that dangerous debris does not necessarily result from the Russian test . A similar communication operation had been carried out by China when it came to the fall of the main stage of the Long March 5B rocket to Earth in recent months.

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