Space collision takes out Iridium satellite

Two satellites have collided in space in what’s believed to be the first accident of its kind between man-made objects.

A defunct Russian satellite and an active communications satellite owned by Iridium have crashed into each other in space, releasing thousands of pieces of potentially dangerous debris into orbit.

AFP has reported that he incident was confirmed by Major General Alexander Yakushin, the head of the Russian space industry who said: "A collision occurred between an Iridium 33 satellite and a Russian Kosmos 2251 military satellite."

Iridium has already denied that it was at fault for the incident and in a statement described it as a, "extremely unusual, very low-probability event".

The Iridium satellite was one of 66 orbiting the earth, provide mobile phone communications but the company said that its services would not be affected as it "is uniquely designed to withstand such an event, and the company is taking the necessary steps to replace the lost satellite with one of its in-orbit spare satellites."

The incident occurred approximately 500 miles above Siberia, and above the orbit of the International Space Station. However, NASA has already said that it does not believe the incident poses any risk to the ISS and does not believe it will delay the launch of the Discovery space shuttle flight that's scheduled for 22 February.

While space detritus does collide occasionally, it is the first time that two satellites have crashed. "We knew this was going to happen eventually," Mark Matney, an orbital debris scientist at Johnson Space Center in Houston is reported to have said.

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