Ecuadoran satellite collides with Russian space junk

By Agence France-Presse
Thursday, May 23, 2013 13:38 EDT
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This file photo shows a rocket taking off with a satellite from a launchpad in Jiuquan, on September 29, 2012 via AFP
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A small Ecuadoran satellite collided in orbit with the remains of a Russian rocket, but it is too soon to know how much damage it might have sustained, Quito’s space agency said Thursday.

Ecuador’s space agency EXA had warned on Wednesday that a space fender-bender was likely between its “Pegaso” (Pegasus) nanosatellite and the remains of the Soviet rocket S14 launched into space nearly three decades ago.

The agency’s director Ronnie Nader said in a Twitter message sent after the crash that US space officials had confirmed Pegaso had suffered only a glancing blow from the Russian space debris.

“It was a not a direct hit,” tweeted Nader, Ecuador’s first and only astronaut. “Pegasus remains in orbit.”

He added that despite the collision — which occurred at around 0538 GMT some 1,500 kilometers above the east coast of Madagascar — the satellite seemed to be holding its course.

But Nader said it was too early to say what the extent of the damage to the nanosatellite is, adding that it would take another day or two to know for sure.

“It remains in its orbit, so we continue to be hopeful,” said Nader, who in the past has said that the nanosatellite is insured, without revealing for how much.

Pegaso — the first satellite designed and built in Ecuador — set off aboard an unmanned rocket April 25 from the Jiuquand station in northern China.

A cube measuring just 10 by 10 by 75 centimeters (four by four by 30 inches), and weighing 1.2 kilograms (2.6 pounds), Pegaso on May 16 transmitted its first live video with audio.

Last month’s launch came amid much fanfare, including a live broadcast.

Ecuador plans to send a second satellite into space from Russia in July.

Agence France-Presse
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