Kosmos 1408

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Kosmos-1408
Kosmos 1408 Numerica post impact debris cloud.png
Ground-based telescope image of Kosmos 1408 debris (circled objects), captured on 15 November 2021
NamesКосмос-1408
Ikar No. 39L
Mission typeELINT
COSPAR ID1982-092A
SATCAT no.13552
Mission duration6 months (planned)
Spacecraft properties
SpacecraftIkar No. 39L [1]
Spacecraft typeELINT
BusTselina-D
ManufacturerYuzhnoye Design Office
Launch mass1,750 kg (3,860 lb)
Start of mission
Launch date16 September 1982, 04:55 UTC
RocketTsyklon-3
Launch sitePlesetsk Cosmodrome, Site 32/2
ContractorYuzhmash
Entered service16 September 1982
End of mission
Destroyed15 November 2021
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric orbit[2]
RegimeLow Earth orbit
Perigee altitude465 km (289 mi)
Apogee altitude490 km (300 mi)
Inclination82.60°
Period93.00 minutes
Kosmos Series
 

Kosmos-1408 (Russian: Космос-1408) was an electronic signals intelligence (ELINT) satellite operated by the Soviet Union. It was launched into low Earth orbit on 16 September 1982, at 14:55 UTC, replacing Kosmos-1378. It operated for around two years, before becoming inactive. It was left in orbit as it had no propulsion system.

The satellite was destroyed in a Russian anti-satellite weapon test on 15 November 2021, resulting in space debris in orbits between 300 and 1,100 km (190 and 680 mi) above the Earth. The threat of potential collision with debris caused the crew of the International Space Station (ISS) to take shelter in their escape capsules for the first few passes of the debris cloud, and increased the future risk of a debris collision with the ISS or other low earth orbit satellites.

Mission[edit]

From 1965 to 1967 the Soviet Yuzhnoye Design Office developed two satellite ELINT systems: Tselina-O for broad observations and Tselina-D for detailed observations. The ELINT payloads for Tselina were first tested under the Kosmos designation in 1962 to 1965. The Soviet Ministry of Defence were unable to convince the military to select a single preferred option, so both systems were brought into service. The first production Tselina-O was launched in 1970. The Tselina-D took longer to enter service, due to delays with the payload development and problems with the mass budget. The full Tselina system became operational in 1976. Continued improvements in the payload led to Tselina-O being abandoned in 1984, with all capabilities being combined into Tselina-D.[3]

Spacecraft[edit]

The orbital decay of Kosmos-1408 since 1980, compared with the ISS

Kosmos-1408 was part of the Tselina-D system.[4][5] It had a mass of around 1,750 kg (3,860 lb),[6] and a radius of around 2.5 m (8 ft 2 in).[7] It is thought to have replaced Kosmos-1378 in the Tselina system, since it was launched into a similar orbital plane.[3][8]

Kosmos-1408 was launched on a Tsyklon-3 launch vehicle on 16 September 1982,[9] from Site 32/2,[10] at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome.[3] It was placed in low Earth orbit, with a perigee of 645 km (401 mi), an apogee of 679 km (422 mi), and an inclination of 82.5°. Its orbital period was 97.8 minutes.[11]

The satellite had an expected lifespan of around six months,[9] but probably operated for around two years, after which it became inactive.[2] It did not have a propulsion system, so could not be deliberately de-orbited at the end of service. The orbit was slowly decaying, due to the small natural drag of the thermosphere.[2][1]

Destruction[edit]

Warning periods when the ISS and Kosmos-1408 orbits crossed.

On 15 November 2021, at around 02:50 UTC,[2] the satellite was destroyed as part of an anti-satellite weapons test by Russia, generating a space debris cloud that threatened the International Space Station.[12][4] The seven crew members aboard the ISS (four American, two Russian, one German)[12] were told to put on their spacesuits[13] and take shelter in the crew capsules[14] so they could quickly return to Earth if debris struck the station.[15] The satellite had been in orbit at an altitude ~50 kilometers (~30 miles) above the ISS orbital altitude,[5] with the debris intersecting the orbit of the ISS every 93 minutes.[16] The crew sheltered for only the second and third passes through the debris field, based on an assessment of the debris risk.[17] There is no evidence that any debris hit the station,[2] but the risk of a potential impact was thought to be increased by a factor of five for the following weeks and months.[18] The debris can also pose a risk to other low Earth orbit satellites,[15][7] and several SpaceX Starlink satellites underwent maneuvers to reduce the risk of collision with the debris.[19]

The direct-ascent anti-satellite[13] A-235 "Nudol" anti-ballistic missile[10] was launched from Plesetsk Cosmodrome[15] at around 02:45 UTC.[2] The system had been undergoing testing since 2014, but this was the first satellite it destroyed.[10] The Outer Space Treaty, which Russia has ratified, bans some types of military activities in space, but not anti-satellite missiles using conventional warheads.[20]

On 15 November, the US State Department reported that it had identified about 1500 pieces of debris that can be tracked by ground-based radar,[16][21] and hundreds of thousands more that are more difficult to track.[15] The same day, breakup of the satellite was independently confirmed by Numerica Corporation and Slingshot Aerospace.[22][18] By 16 November 2021, the debris was orbiting at altitudes between 440 and 520 km (270 and 320 mi);[15] by 17 November 2021 this range increased to 300 to 1,100 km (190 to 680 mi).[23] On 18 November 2021, LeoLabs detected around 300 pieces and also estimated that there were around 1500 ground-trackable pieces in total. They found this lower than expected, compared to other anti-satellite tests, meaning that the pieces are expected to have higher masses so will stay in orbit for longer,[7] and that the lower-than-expected number of debris pieces might be because the event was not a hypervelocity collision.[24] The debris is expected to continue to orbit for several years, potentially decades.[25]

Reactions[edit]

The United States Department of State accused Russia of having targeted Kosmos 1408 during an anti-satellite weapon test, using a ground-based missile against their own defunct satellite,[16] saying that it was "dangerous and irresponsible".[12] On 15 November the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, stated that there was no risk to the ISS or other peaceful uses of space.[26] On 16 November, Sergei Shoigu, the Russian minister of defence, acknowledged that the destruction of the satellite was due to a Russian missile test, but argued that it posed no threat to any space activities.[12]

NASA administrator Bill Nelson stated that: "With its long and storied history in human spaceflight, it is unthinkable that Russia would endanger not only the American and international partner astronauts on the ISS, but also their own cosmonauts", and the "actions are reckless and dangerous, threatening as well [sic] the Chinese space station".[27][13]

The Secure World Foundation, a U.S. think tank, called upon the United States, Russia, China, and India to declare unilateral moratoriums on further testing of their antisatellite weapons.[28]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Launch Log". Jonathan's Space Report. 21 July 2021. Archived from the original on 16 November 2021. Retrieved 21 November 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "The 2021 Nudol' test". Jonathan's Space Report. 20 November 2021. Archived from the original on 20 November 2021. Retrieved 21 November 2021.
  3. ^ a b c "Display: Kosmos-1408 (1982-092A)". NASA. 28 October 2021. Archived from the original on 17 November 2021. Retrieved 15 November 2021. Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  4. ^ a b "Astronauts Forced to Take Shelter as Debris Cloud Threatens Space Station". Gizmodo. Archived from the original on 16 November 2021. Retrieved 15 November 2021.
  5. ^ a b Trevithick, Joseph. "Russian Anti-Satellite Test Produces Dangerous Debris Cloud In Orbit: Reports (Updated)". The Drive. Archived from the original on 16 November 2021. Retrieved 15 November 2021.
  6. ^ "Космические аппараты радиоэлектронного наблюдения". yuzhnoye.com. Archived from the original on 20 November 2021. Retrieved 21 November 2021.
  7. ^ a b c "Analysis of the Cosmos 1408 Breakup". Medium. 18 November 2021. Archived from the original on 20 November 2021. Retrieved 20 November 2021.
  8. ^ Soviet space programs, 1976-80 (with supplementary data through 1983). U.S. Government Printing Office. 1984. p. 790.
  9. ^ a b "Tselina-D (11F619, Ikar)". Gunter's Space Page. 15 November 2021. Archived from the original on 15 November 2021. Retrieved 15 November 2021.
  10. ^ a b c Graham, William (15 November 2021). "Russia tests anti-satellite missile, debris disrupts International Space Station". NASASpaceFlight.com. Archived from the original on 16 November 2021. Retrieved 16 November 2021.
  11. ^ "Trajectory: Kosmos-1408 (1982-092A)". NASA. 28 October 2021. Archived from the original on 16 November 2021. Retrieved 15 November 2021. Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  12. ^ a b c d "Russian Anti-Satellite Missile Test Poses No Threat – Moscow". BBC News. 16 November 2021. Archived from the original on 17 November 2021. Retrieved 19 November 2021.
  13. ^ a b c CNN, Kylie Atwood, Jim Sciutto, Kristin Fisher and Nicole Gaouette. "US says it "won't tolerate" Russia's "reckless and dangerous" anti-satellite missile test". CNN. Archived from the original on 19 November 2021. Retrieved 20 November 2021.
  14. ^ Gohd, Chelsea (15 November 2021). "Did Russia just launch an anti-satellite test that created a cloud of space junk?". Space.com. Archived from the original on 16 November 2021. Retrieved 15 November 2021.
  15. ^ a b c d e "Russian Anti-Satellite Test Adds to Worsening Problem of Space Debris". BBC News. 16 November 2021. Archived from the original on 18 November 2021. Retrieved 19 November 2021.
  16. ^ a b c Grush, Loren (15 November 2021). "Russia blows up a satellite, creating a dangerous debris cloud in space". The Verge. Archived from the original on 17 November 2021. Retrieved 15 November 2021.
  17. ^ "NASA Administrator Statement on Russian ASAT Test". NASA. 15 November 2021. Archived from the original on 17 November 2021. Retrieved 16 November 2021. Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  18. ^ a b "Debris from destroyed Russian satellite now visible in telescope images". Room, The Space Journal. Retrieved 30 November 2021.
  19. ^ "Outer Space Treaty". United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs. November 2021. Archived from the original on 29 October 2019. Retrieved 16 November 2021.
  20. ^ "US accuses Russia of "dangerous" behavior after anti-satellite weapons test". The Guardian. 15 November 2021. Archived from the original on 16 November 2021. Retrieved 15 November 2021.
  21. ^ Howell, Elizabeth. "Space debris from Russian anti-satellite missile test spotted in telescope images and video". Space.com. Space.com. Retrieved 30 November 2021.
  22. ^ Berger, Eric (17 November 2021). "New images and analyses reveal extent of Cosmos 1408 debris cloud". Ars Technica. Archived from the original on 19 November 2021. Retrieved 17 November 2021.
  23. ^ "Part II — New Observations on Cosmos 1408 Breakup". Medium. 19 November 2021. Archived from the original on 20 November 2021. Retrieved 20 November 2021.
  24. ^ "Russian direct-ascent anti-satellite missile test creates significant, long-lasting space debris". United States Space Command. Archived from the original on 17 November 2021. Retrieved 16 November 2021. Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  25. ^ Gershkovich, Evan. "Russia admits destroying satellite with space missile strike". phys.org. Retrieved 26 November 2021.
  26. ^ Weitering, Hanneke (16 November 2021). "NASA chief Bill Nelson condemns Russian anti-satellite test". Space.com. Archived from the original on 16 November 2021. Retrieved 18 November 2021.
  27. ^ "New images and analyses reveal extent of Cosmos 1408 debris cloud". Ars Technica. 17 November 2021. Archived from the original on 19 November 2021. Retrieved 20 November 2021.