Satellite Lost in Space Collision Replaced in Orbit

Iridium Satellite LLC said Monday that it has moved a spare satellite into the orbit of the one that was destroyed in a collision with a Russian satellite a month ago.

The high-speed crash with the decommissioned Russian military communications satellite on Feb. 9 turned both spacecraft into clouds of debris.

Soon after, Iridium, which is based in Bethesda, Md., said it had reconfigured its remaining 65 active satellites to cover the hole in worldwide satellite-phone coverage left by the crash.

On Monday, it said it had permanently closed the gap with a spare that was already in orbit, bringing its fleet back to 66 active satellites.

Iridium said it believes the incident has demonstrated the need for more "aggressive action" to track satellites and prevent collisions. It suggested expanded sharing of information between the industry and the U.S. government, which could relieve the Air Force of the need to track commercial satellites.

Nicholas L. Johnson, NASA's chief scientist for orbital debris, said last month that about 19,000 objects are present in low and high orbit around the Earth. That includes about 900 satellites, but most of it is junk.