Part II — New Observations on Cosmos 1408 Breakup

Gabbard diagram of LeoLabs debris fragments from Cosmos 1408

Our hypothesis up until now is that this was a hypervelocity collision, but there is a possibility that it was not.

Hypervelocity Space Impacts 101

Properties of hypervelocity vs. non-hypervelocity collisions in space
  • A head-on collision would result in a ~15 km/s impact.
  • Getting “T-boned” (e.g., impact angle of 90 degrees) the relative impact velocity would be on the order of 10 km/s.
  • Even a collision where the two objects travel in generally similar directions at orbital velocities can still result in hypervelocity impact.

New Assessment for Cosmos 1408 Fragmentation Counts

  • *35–45 J/gm determined empirically in 1992. Source: McKnight, D. and Hoyle, S., “Investigation of ANOVA Techniques Applied to Breakup Modeling,” Presented at the 18th International Symposium on Space Technology and Science, Kagoshima, Japan, 17–23 May 1992




Tracking space debris in Low Earth Orbit.

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Tracking space debris in Low Earth Orbit.

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