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Exploring cause of satellite collision

TEXT OF STORY

Bill Radke: Commercial satellite companies are assessing the impact of a collision in space earlier this week. An American communications satellite was destroyed when it ran into a Russian craft. From the European Desk in London, Stephen Beard has more.


Stephen Beard: A satellite owned by the U.S. company Iridium crashed into a defunct Russian military satellite. This is the first time that two full-size craft have collided in orbit.

Iridium supplies telecom services. The company says the loss of its craft will have a minimal effect on its business. It has a couple of spare satellites which can be swiftly maneuvered into position.

But the accident underlines a growing problem. David Wade is a satellite insurer with Lloyds of London. He says space is getting crowded.

David Wade: I think this will help to focus the minds of the satellite operators and make them realize that it is a limited resource. There's certainly going to be an emphasis on the amount of debris in low Earth orbit now.

So, the crash could be good for the satellite insurance business. These craft cost at least $10 million. Wade does not believe Iridium's satellite was covered.

In London, this is Stephen Beard for Marketplace.

About the author

Stephen Beard is the European bureau chief and provides daily coverage of Europe’s business and economic developments for the entire Marketplace portfolio.

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