MadSci Network: Astronomy

Re: How many artificial satellites are in orbit and why don't they crash into each other?

Date: Fri Sep 8 20:55:51 2000
Posted By: John Metcalfe, Staff, Computing and Information Services, Texas A&M University at Galveston
Area of science: Astronomy
ID: 968269320.As

Hey Dave,
You're right, there are literally thousands of satellites out there. Actually you have great timing, I just found a site, Liftoff Home, where you can check where they all are.

All those satellites are in pre-defined orbits, and actually sometimes a few do collide. Usually, these are the older ones in decaying orbits though. Several of the shuttle missions had to actually adjust their orbits to avoid "space junk."

Hopefully this answered your question.

[Moreover, because the orbits of most satellites are known, when a new satellite is launched, it can be placed in an orbit so that it does not collide with any of the known satellites. Moderator]

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