Vladimir Isachenkov of the Associated Press:
The crash of two satellites has generated an estimated tens of thousands of pieces of space junk that could circle Earth and threaten other satellites for the next 10,000 years, space experts said Friday.
One expert called the collision “a catastrophic event” that he hoped would force President Barack Obama's administration to address the long-ignored issue of debris in space.
Russian Mission Control chief Vladimir Solovyov said Tuesday's smashup of a derelict Russian military satellite and a working U.S. Iridium commercial satellite occurred in the busiest part of near-Earth space — some 500 miles (800 kilometers) above Earth.
“800 kilometers is a very popular orbit which is used by Earth-tracking and communications satellites,” Solovyov told reporters Friday. “The clouds of debris pose a serious danger to them.”
Solovyov said debris from the collision could stay in orbit for up to 10,000 years and even tiny fragments threaten spacecraft because both travel at such a high orbiting speed.