Ecuador's Pegasus in Peril

The Ecuadorean Space Agency (EXA) has announced efforts to reestablish contact with the country’s only satellite in orbit after a predicted collision with debris in orbit. The small (1.2665 kilograms/ 2.792 lb) cube-shaped satellite has been a source of national pride since its launch on April 25th aboard a Chinese rocket.

The US-based Joint Space Operations Center provided early warning that the satellite may have a near miss with the upper stage of a Soviet-era Tsyklon-3 rocket, but the Ecuadorean satellite - Pegasus (NEE-01 Pegaso) - was not equipped to move out of the way. Though no direct contact was observed, it’s possible that the near miss resulted in some contact with smaller debris.

EXA’s chief Ronnie Nader was hopeful for the survival of Pegasus. He tweeted, "Ecuador still has its satellite, the people still have Pegasus. [It] could be damaged or spinning out of control, but because it's still in orbit, we have hope."

Though data shows there was a collision with some debris, it may take several days to get a clear picture of the damage. Time will tell if Ecuador’s first and only satellite will continue to take and transmit pictures and video. Though it’s not considered an incredibly valuable project, the plight of Ecuador’s satellite reinforces the argument that significant efforts need to be taken to deal with space trash that is increasingly filling up orbits around the Earth. Official Pegasus Website with updates as they occur.

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