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Amount of Russia’s space junk in orbit shrinks over year

September 09, 2015, 12:02 UTC+3 MOSCOW
Russia is still number one by the amount of space debris left in near-earth space
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MOSCOW, September 9. /TASS/. Although Russia is still number one by the amount of space debris left in near-earth space, the amount of debris of Russian origin has reduced over the past year from nearly 6,300 to less than 6,200, the press service of the TsNIImash (Central Research Institute of Machine-Building - the head research center of Roscosmos), told TASS.

According to a TsNIIMash report, published in November last year, the United States accounted for 4,570 space debris. China was number three with 3,660. Since then the number of Chinese objects went down to 3,570, while that of US ones grew to about 4,680.

"The low near-earth orbits are the most polluted ones, with most of the space junk present at altitudes of 700-900 kilometers to about 1,500 kilometers," TsNIIMash said.

As at the end of July 2015 more than 78% of space junk was in the low orbit part of the near-earth space, in other words, at altitudes of up to 2,000 kilometers. Nearly 13% percent was in high elliptical orbits, and more than 6%, in geo-stationary orbits. Less than 3% was present in other orbits, the TsNIIMash said.

The institute’s press-service said that one of the natural factors for cleaning orbits of space junk was their slow-down in the upper atmosphere. Its effects are the strongest on objects in orbits of up to 600 kilometers high.

"Even there space debris can exist for decades. As for the geo-stationary orbits, there are no natural factors for cleaning them at all. Space junk will be present there forever," the TsNIIMash said.

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