Analysis of the Cosmos 1408 Breakup

There will be some potential collision risk to most satellites in LEO from the fragmentation of Cosmos 1408 over the next few years to decades.

Cosmos 1408 — Before the ASAT Test

Orbit path of Cosmos 1408 satellite prior to breakup
LeoLabs high level information on Cosmos 1408

The Day of the ASAT Test

LeoLabs tracking data on Cosmos 1408 for 30 days prior to the breakup event
LeoLabs data collected on new Cosmos 1408 debris taken from Costa Rica Space Radar

Initial Data Assessment

Gabbard diagram of LeoLabs data on 253 new Cosmos 1408 debris objects
  1. Objects ejected into lower perigees will have their orbits circularize relatively quickly, and the majority will re-enter the atmosphere over the next five years.
  2. Objects ejected into higher orbits will have their orbits circularize more slowly, and the majority will re-enter the atmosphere over much longer timeframes — potentially decades, depending on altitude.

New Spatial Density of Space Debris

LeoLabs assessment of the new debris density from Cosmos 1408 breakup

Factors Affecting Lifetime in Orbit

  1. The majority of the fragments created from the Iridium 33 satellite have decayed over the past 12 years, largely due to the lower material density from it being made much more recently.
  2. The majority of the fragments created from the Cosmos 2251 satellite are still in orbit, largely due to their Cold War construction — very similar to the lineage of Cosmos 1408 being built “last century”.

Some of the new Cosmos 1408 debris fragments may be as large or larger than many cubesats operating in LEO.

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Tracking space debris in Low Earth Orbit. https://leolabs.space

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LeoLabs

LeoLabs

Tracking space debris in Low Earth Orbit. https://leolabs.space

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