On January 4, 2023, the Russian satellite Kosmos-2499 was destroyed in near-Earth orbit. This was reported by the 18th Space Control Squadron of the US Air Force. As a result of the incident, at least 85 pieces of debris were formed.
#18SDS has confirmed the breakup of COSMOS 2499 (#39765, 2014-028E) – occurred Jan 4, 2023 at appx 0357 UTC. Tracking 85 associated pieces at est 1169 km altitude – analysis ongoing. #spacedebris #space @SpaceTrackOrg @US_SpaceCom @ussfspoc
— 18th Space Defense Squadron (@18thSDS) February 7, 2023
Kosmos-2499 was launched in May 2014. It was launched into orbit by a Rokot rocket along with three Russian communications satellites. At the same time, Russia has not officially announced the launch of the fourth spacecraft into orbit as part of this launch.
After deployment, Kosmos-2499 performed a number of maneuvers, in particular, getting closer to the Briz-KM upper stage. In this regard, some experts have suggested that it is an inspector satellite, or even a space kamikaze designed to destroy other spacecraft by detonation. According to other sources, the spacecraft was intended for testing new ion engines.
On October 23, 2021, tracking devices recorded the separation of 18 fragments from Kosmos-2499. The exact cause of the incident remained unknown. Most often, spacecraft are destroyed due to the explosion of leftover fuel or batteries. Sometimes this also happens due to a collision with space debris — but in the case of Kosmos-2499, tracking devices did not record the appearance of other objects near it.
The version that the destruction of Kosmos-2499 was caused by internal reasons was confirmed on January 4, 2023. On that day, the spacecraft (at least, its largest fragment) collapsed again. This time — with the formation of at least 85 tracked debris. Since the Russian satellite was at an altitude of 1,169 kilometers, they would remain in orbit for thousands of years, posing a threat to other satellites.
Recall that recently an old Soviet and Russian satellite miraculously avoided a collision over Antarctica.
Follow us on Twitter to get the most interesting space news in time