ESTCube-1 is not having a very good week. Just as operators were heaving a sigh of relief over having escaped a collision with a close-passing debris body from the Iridium-Cosmos 2251 collision, a new danger arose. The following updated was posted to the mission Facebook page.
AGAIN! A few hours ago we got another warning from the US Joint Space Operations Center. On Sunday, August 4, at 05.35 UTC, a space junk (NORAD code SCC# 22578), which is 30 times bigger than today will be in close proximity of ESTCube-1. Our first thought was that our satellite is heading into the huge cloud of space debris from the Iridium-Cosmos 2251 collision. But the good news is that this piece of junk is from another mission. So it is just a very unfortunate coincidence. Currently the estimate is that the junk will miss ESTCube-1 by 900 meters. Let’s hope it will stay this way. The first contact with ESTCube-1 after the incidence can be established from Tartu around 11.10 on Sunday morning.
As you all know, the technology tested on board of ESTCube-1 could be also possibly used to remove the space debris in the future (the plasma brake). So it really looks like the evil space junk is attacking our satellite on purpose to avoid the mankind to be able to get rid of it.
The debris is the rocket body from Zenit, launched in 1993 from Baikonur.