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Ecuador Pegasus Satellite Fears over Space Debris Crash

Ecuador Pegasus Satellite Fears over Space Debris Crash

The Ecuadorean space agency (EXA) is trying to pick up signals from its satellite after it was found to be on a collision course with space debris.

The nano-satellite, called Pegasus, was launched from the Jiuquan spaceport in China less than a month ago, BBC reported.

It is Ecuador’s first and only satellite in orbit.

Experts calculated Pegasus was on a course to collide at 05:38 GMT on Thursday with debris from a Soviet rocket launched in 1985.

EXA chief Ronnie Nader said Ecuadorean engineers would monitor the nano-satellite but could only be sure of its fate some 36 to 48 hours after the suspected collision.

He said EXA would use radar to check on Pegasus in the hope of finding it unscathed.

Pegasus, a small cube weighing just 1.2kg (2.6lb), has been orbiting the Earth at a height of 650km (404 miles), transmitting pictures from space while playing recordings of the Ecuadorean national anthem.

On Wednesday, the US-based Joint Space Operations Center, which monitors all artificial Earth-orbiting objects, notified EXA of a possible collision between Pegasus and the fuel tank of an S14 Soviet rocket over the Indian Ocean, some 1,500km East of Madagascar.

EXA said it hoped that if the two were to collide, it would be a lateral rather than a frontal crash, sparing the satellite’s wings.

Nader said the satellite was insured.

The Ecuadorean government contributed $700,000 (£465,000) to its launch on board an unmanned rocket.

Ecuador is planning to launch a second satellite, named Kryasor, from Russia in August.

The Joint Space Operations Center tracks more than 22,000 objects orbiting Earth, of which 87% are debris and inactive satellites.

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