Ecuador warns satellite could hit rocket remains (Update)

May 22, 2013
This file photo shows a rocket taking off with a satellite, from the remote Gobi desert launch pad in Jiuquan, northwest China's Gansu province, on September 29, 2012. An Ecuadoran satellite launched from the same pad last month could collide with the remains of a Russian rocket in the coming hours, the country's civilian space agency warned.

An Ecuadoran satellite launched last month could collide with the remains of a Russian rocket in the coming hours, the country's civilian space agency warned.

The "Pegaso" (Pegasus) nanosatellite, designed and built in Ecuador, set off aboard an unmanned rocket April 25 from the Jiuquand station in northern China. It is the country's first.

"Alert: possible collision between NEE-01 Pegaso and Russian rocket remains," tweeted the country's civilian space agency, EXA.

Measuring just 10 by 10 by 75 centimeters (four by four by 30 inches), and weighing 1.2 kilograms (2.6 pounds), Pegaso on May 16 transmitted its first live video with audio.

EXA chief Ronnie Nader, Ecuador's first and only astronaut, said the Pegaso could crash with the remains of the Soviet rocket S14 which was launched into space in June 1985.

The two objects could collide at 0538 GMT Thursday at some 1,500 kilometers above the eastern coast of Madagascar.

Graphic on the estimated 23,000 large pieces of debris and defunct space hardward that currently orbit the earth.

Ecuadoran engineers tracking the satellite from the EXA headquarters in the port city of Guayaquil fear that the Pegaso will slam into the S14's fuel tank.

Nader told reporters that they will not be certain of the satellite's fate until 36 to 48 hours after the event.

Nader also said the nanosatellite is insured, but did not say for how much.

Last month's launch came amid much fanfare, including a live broadcast.

The South American country plans to send a second satellite into space from Russia in July.

Explore further: Dawn spirals closer to Ceres, returns a new view

Related Stories

China launches Turkish satellite

Dec 18, 2012

China early Wednesday "successfully" launched a Turkish earth observation satellite into orbit aboard a Chinese rocket, according to state media, hailed in Turkey as a "historic moment".

Recommended for you

Dawn spirals closer to Ceres, returns a new view

8 hours ago

A new view of Ceres, taken by NASA's Dawn spacecraft on May 23, shows finer detail is becoming visible on the dwarf planet. The spacecraft snapped the image at a distance of 3,200 miles (5,100 kilometers) ...

Ariane 5's second launch of 2015

19 hours ago

An Ariane 5 lifted off last night from Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana and delivered two telecom satellites into their planned orbits.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.