Science & Technology

The Most Iconic Space Debris Moments in Recent History

The Most Iconic Space Debris Moments in Recent History
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Space debris is a growing problem in the space community, with the number of man-made objects orbiting the Earth increasing at an alarming rate. Despite the growing awareness of this issue, the problem persists, and it’s important to take a look back at some of the most iconic moments in recent history that have brought attention to this issue.

The 2007 Chinese Anti-Satellite Test

In January of 2007, China made headlines when they intentionally destroyed one of their own satellites with a missile, creating over 3,000 pieces of space debris. The international community was quick to respond, condemning the move as dangerous and irresponsible. This event marked the first time that a nation had intentionally created space debris, and it brought the issue of space debris to the forefront of international discussions.

The 2009 Collision between the Iridium 33 and Kosmos-2251 Satellites

In February of 2009, the Iridium 33 and Kosmos-2251 satellites collided at a speed of over 22,000 miles per hour, creating thousands of pieces of space debris. This was the first time that two operational satellites had collided, and it highlighted the need for better tracking and collision avoidance measures in space.

The 2011 Failure of the Russian Phobos-Grunt Mission

In November of 2011, the Russian Phobos-Grunt mission failed, leaving the spacecraft stranded in low Earth orbit. Despite numerous attempts to re-establish contact, the spacecraft eventually re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere and broke up, adding even more debris to the already crowded space environment.

The 2012 Tiangong-1 Re-entry

In March of 2018, China’s Tiangong-1 space laboratory re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere, breaking up and scattering debris over the South Pacific Ocean. The uncontrolled re-entry of Tiangong-1 sparked international concern and brought the issue of space debris to the forefront once again.


These iconic moments in recent history serve as a reminder of the growing threat of space debris. From intentional satellite destruction to failed missions and uncontrolled re-entries, the space community must work together to find solutions to this problem before it becomes even more severe. With advances in technology and a growing international focus on the issue, it’s an exciting time for the future of space debris cleanup and prevention.