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Orbital debris: a case study of an impact event in South Africa

Botha, Willem1
Affiliation data not available1

Document details

Publishing year2001 PublisherESA Publishing typeConference Name of conference3rd European Conference on Space Debris
Pagesn/a Volume
H. Lacoste


On 27 April 2000, around 15:30 South African Standard Time (SAST), three pieces of space debris impacted at three separate locations in the western Cape. Each impact, impact location, eyewitness reports and subsequent events are described briefly. Examination and identification of the space debris that survived the rigours of re-entry are detailed. Some images of the surviving debris, which, in general, suffered only moderate damage as a result of the re-entry process, are provided. These events underline the potential danger of space debris to man, his activities and infrastructure. Although there were no casualties or extensive damage in this case, all three impact sites are close to densely populated areas and other sensitive infrastructure where serious damage and casualties may have resulted. The danger that orbital debris poses to man's terrestrial and space infrastructure and activities over the long term is considered.