New space arms race could hinder exploration efforts

For some space watchers, Nov. 15, 2021 brought a glimpse of a very dark future. 

On that date, Russia launched an unannounced missile that shattered one of its own defunct satellites into myriad shards, including over 1,000 pieces large enough to track. The rain of debris sent the International Space Station crew — including two Russian cosmonauts — scrambling into their transports for shelter. The detritus continued to circle; months later, one piece passed within (opens in new tab) a dangerous stone’s throw of a Chinese Earth-observation satellite.

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