Space debris over Puerto Bermejo de Chaco, Argentina

Footage from Puerto Bermejo de Chaco, Argentina, recorded on January 28, 2024, shows space debris, likely a fragment of the STARLINK-1774 payload, part of the Starlink Launch 13 mission.

For more than 30 seconds on January 28, residents of Puerto Bermejo de Chaco in Argentina observed remarkable space debris reentry over their city. The debris has been identified as likely belonging to the STARLINK-1774 payload, a part of the Starlink Launch 13 mission, which was launched from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, US, on October 18, 2020.

The predicted reentry time for this fragment was January 28, 2024, at 18:15 UTC, with a margin of ± 5 hours.

To provide context to this event, the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Space Debris Office at ESOC in Darmstadt, Germany, reported as of December 6, 2023, some key figures related to space debris:

  • Since the start of the space age in 1957, there have been approximately 6 500 rocket launches (excluding failures).
  • These launches have placed about 16 990 satellites into Earth orbit.
  • Around 11 500 of these objects remain in space, with about 9 000 still functioning.
  • Approximately 35 150 debris objects are regularly tracked and catalogued by Space Surveillance Networks.
  • There have been over 640 break-ups, explosions, collisions, or other events leading to fragmentation.
  • The total mass of all space objects in Earth orbit exceeds 11,500 tonnes.

Moreover, statistical models, such as MASTER-8, estimate the presence of about 36 500 space debris objects larger than 10 cm (4 inches), 1 million objects ranging from 1 cm to 10 cm (0.4 – 10 inches), and 130 million objects from 1 mm to 1 cm (0.04 – 0.4 inches) in size.

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