clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

OBJECT NO. 20,000 IS RECORDED IN `SPACE CATALOG'

Cosmos 2021 became Object No. 20,000 in the U.S. Space Command's space catalog this week.

The Soviet satellite was logged into the catalog at 5:30 a.m. Wednesday, the time of its launch.The Space Command's Surveillance Center is tracking about 7,000 manufactured space objects but has cataloged every satellite or piece of junk larger than a softball in Earth orbit since Sputnik was launched on Oct. 4, 1957.

The center has tracked a wrench and camera dropped by astronauts, bits and pieces of exploded rocket bodies, satellites and shuttles.

Most of the 13,000 objects that have fallen back toward Earth burned up in the atmosphere.

But a few more notable objects, such as the U.S.-built Skylab and the Soviet-built Cosmos 954, were too large to burn up and came crashing back to Earth. Cosmos 954 and its nuclear reactor fell in northern Canada in January 1978; Skylab fell in Australia and the Indian Ocean in July 1979.

The Space Surveillance Center uses radar and optical tracking devices to keep track of the objects.

The information is used to ensure that the shuttle or other rockets depositing payloads in space don't run into objects in orbit or that a falling satellite isn't mistaken for a missile attack.