View Full Version : Old Soviet RORSAT (nuclear) "acts up"

2009-Jan-17, 08:04 PM

Spinning around the Earth for more than two decades, an old Soviet satellite, replete with a nuclear reactor, has acted up.

Launched by the former Soviet Union in February 1987, Cosmos 1818 was the first of two vehicles designed to evaluate an advanced nuclear power supply in low Earth orbit.

But ground-watching surveillance gear has picked up dozens of small particles spewing into space from the 21-year-old satellite. Why the unexpected debris cloud? It's still what industry types call an unexplained debris generation event.

The most infamous RORSAT was Cosmos 954. It made an out-of-control nose dive in 1978, raining a mess of radioactive debris over Canada.

These RORSATs were placed at an altitude above 500 miles (800 kilometers), he added, in the hope that their orbit would not decay until after their radioactivity had decayed hundreds of years from now. However, this also placed the RORSATs in a region of space that has the highest collision probability with other debris.

Ara Pacis
2009-Jan-18, 02:53 AM
I wonder if this was hit by debris from that chinese sat shot a couple years ago.

2009-Jan-19, 03:55 PM
Wouldn't that be a peach... :rolleyes:

2009-Jan-21, 05:40 PM
If the latest debris was caused by collisions with older NaK spheres, and this process keeps up, then we might end up with 3 radiation belts: the outer VanAllen belt, the inner VanAllen belt, and the NaK belt.