(2007 December 5) The official debris count from China’s anti-satellite missile
test has reached 2,317 pieces big enough to be tracked and NASA's Orbital Debris
Program Office is estimating more than 35,000 pieces larger than 1 cm (see
"China’s Anti-Satellite Test: Worrisome Debris Cloud Circles
Earth," Space.Com, Feb 2.) This makes the January 11 test the largest
debris-generating event in history, far surpassing the previous record set in 1996,
according to Dr. T.S. Kelso. Dr. Kelso serves as Senior Research Astrodynamicist in
the Center for Space Standards & Innovation (CSSI) and webmaster of CelesTrak, a site dedicated to
tracking space objects and monitoring them for in-orbit collisions.
Summary of this event—including information from NASA's Orbital Debris
Program Office about the total number of large and small pieces, the increased
number of conjunctions seen in SOCRATES reports, and analysis of the total number of
satellites affected is available on CelesTrak. Resources from Dr. Kelso's April
19 webinar, Space Debris: Chinese ASAT Adds
More to the Clutter, are also available.
Dr. Kelso has produced videos, high-resolution graphics, and interactive
animations (VDFs) using AGI software to illustrate the ramifications of the
test. The graphics and animations were derived from information cataloged by the
North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and released to the public via
Space Track, operated by Air Force Space Command. They were last updated on
December 5, following a posting by NORAD of 2,317 trackable pieces of debris
from the incident. The satellites and debris fragments are greatly magnified to
illustrate the location of the orbits.
HIGH-RESOLUTION STK GRAPHICS: Download the high-resolution graphics by clicking on the images above. In all uses, please courtesy "STK-generated images courtesy of CSSI (www.centerforspace.com)."
STK-GENERATED VIDEOS: ASAT high-definition WMV download (39MB), ASAT high-definition ZIP download (39MB), or ASAT broadcast quality QuickTime MOV (515MB zipped with no audio). In all uses, please courtesy "STK-generated videos courtesy of CSSI (www.centerforspace.com)."
INTERACTIVE AGI VIEWER VDF FILES: Provide a comprehensive sense of the overall space environment by allowing you to
zoom in and out and move around the Earth while watching all the satellites moving in their orbits.
They require the free AGI
Viewer software and appropriate hardware to run. Click the links below to access the VDF files. In all uses, please courtesy "STK-generated VDFs courtesy of CSSI (www.centerforspace.com)."
ABOUT THE SCENARIOS
CSSI IN THE NEWS
Chinese ASAT: The Chinese weather satellite as it is struck, causing a debris cloud
The files show the period from 2007 January 11 at 2228 UTC until January
12 at 0600 UTC. The FENGYUN 1C (pre-attack) orbit is shown in red. The
Xichang Space Center location is also noted. The pieces of debris
catalogued by NORAD and released to the public via Space Track are shown
in green. The animation shows the spread of the resulting debris cloud
for the first few orbits. Initial analysis shows pieces in the debris
cloud ranging from below 200 km in altitude up to almost 4,000 km,
posing a threat to many operational satellites, due to the polar orbit
of the debris cloud.
ISS-ASAT DEBRIS: The ISS passing through the debris cloud
- These files show how the ISS passes through the ring of debris at the southern part of its orbit.
LEO-ASAT DEBRIS: The larger population of satellite payloads in orbit that could be affected by the debris
These graphics depict the larger population of LEO satellite payloads (size exaggerated for visibility) that could
be affected. A satellite payload is that portion of a launch vehicle that will conduct the operational mission of the satellite in orbit.
Examples of payloads include sensors, transmitters/receivers, or other scientific or engineering experiments.
Potential conjunctions with satellite payloads currently on orbit can be found by searching for
"FENGYUN 1C DEB" using SOCRATES.
All-SATS: View of All Satellites including Debris Ring from Chinese ASAT Test Readily Visible
This debris event is so large that the debris can be easily seen without doing anything to emphasize the debris cloud.
MSNBC Cosmiclog, 2007 Feb 2
“China’s Space-Weapon Test Could Endanger Astronauts and Satellites”
ABC News Technology & Science, 2007 Feb 1
ABC News Blogs. 2007 Feb 1
“Chinese A-SAT Test Called “One of the Worst Ever” Debris Incidents”
Space News Business Report, 2007 Jan 29
"A View to a Satellite Kill"
MSNBC Cosmiclog, 2007 Jan 25
ABOUT AGI VIEWER SOFTWARE
AGI Viewer is a free product that allows anyone with a Windows computer to view an STK-generated scenario. With AGI Viewer, you can
animate a scenario forward or backward, pause the animation, and zoom or pan the view for a more complete understanding of the
event. As with Adobe Acrobat, where the authoring software requires a license but the Adobe Reader is free, STK can produce AGI
Viewer files—also known as VDFs—that can then be viewed by anyone with the AGI Viewer software. More on AGI Viewer
can be found at http://www.agi.com/products/viewer/.
Download the Chinese ASAT webinar for Media
Media Relations Manager
Analytical Graphics, Inc.