[ENT] Two huge pieces of space junk set for ‘one of worst space crashes ever’ tonight

The idea of two enormous defunct satellites crashing may sound like the plot from a science fiction blockbuster, but it could become a reality tonight.

Experts have warned that two big pieces of space junk are zooming towards each other, and could collide at round 01:56 BST tonight.

The encounter will take place 616 miles above the South Atlantic Ocean, just off the coast of Antarctica, according to tracking company LeoLabs.

LeoLabs tweeted: “This event continues to be very high risk and will likely stay this way through the time of closest approach.”

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The objects are a defunct Soviet satellite called Parus, and a Chinese rocket stage, with a combined mass of around 2,800kg.

Considering they’ll be barrelling towards each other at a velocity of around 32,900 mph, a collision could be catastrophic.

According to Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer from the Centre for Astrophysics, a collision would result in a ‘significant’ increase in low Earth orbit (LEO) space junk.

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While the event is unlikely to affect us here on Earth, it could have serious repercussions for satellites, as well as the International Space Station.

NASA explained: “Most ‘space junk’ is moving very fast and can reach speeds of 18,000 miles per hour, almost seven times faster than a bullet.

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“Due to the rate of speed and volume of debris in LEO, current and future space-based services, explorations, and operations pose a safety risk to people and property in space and on Earth.

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This wouldn’t be the first time that two large pieces of space junk have collided.

Back in 2009, a communications satellite collided with a defunct Russian military satellite, resulting in 1,800 pieces of debris.

LeoLabs will track the space junk tonight to see if it does collide.

It added: “We have scheduled a search mode scan during this time to ensure we only see two objects as expected and hopefully confirm that no new debris is detected.”

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