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Satellite Crash Debris Will Threaten Spacecraft For 10,000 Years

02/13/09 06:11 AM ET   AP

Satellite Collision

MOSCOW — The chief of Russia's Mission Control says clouds of debris from the collision between U.S. and Russian communications satellites will circle Earth for thousands of years and threaten numerous satellites.

Vladimir Solovyov says the crash occurred in an orbit crowded by satellites from many nations.

Solovyov told reporters Friday that numerous fragments left by Tuesday's collision could stay in orbit for up to 10,000 years. He said that even tiny fragments could pose a serious threat to spacecraft made of light alloys.

No one has any idea yet exactly how many pieces of space junk the collision created. Space experts said the collision created hundreds, maybe thousands, of fragments.

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Filed by Dave Burdick  |