As the volume of space junk circling in near earth orbit continues to grow, the realm of a safe space industry depends on cutting-edge radar systems.  LeoLabs is a world leading space tracking company and have just launched a radar based in Collie, Western Australia.  This is one of six around the globe, keeping the skies and the space industry safe.   


1. The International Space Station

30 near misses have required evasive action for the ISS, over its 23-year orbit of Earth. Three of these near misses occurred in 2020 and this year a tiny piece of space debris actually hit the ISS and put a 5mm hole into its robot arm.

2. Two Near Misses for SpaceX Rocket

In 2021 astronauts on their way to the International Space Station were just 12 minutes into their flight when space debris can be seen hurtling past the rocket. Then, six hours into the flight a second unknown object had another near miss with the space craft. Eventually the astronauts did arrive safely at the ISS.

3. Space Junk Lands in NSW Farm

In August 2022, a farmer in rural New South Wales was surprised to find a large piece of debris sticking up out of the ground in his paddock. Measuring almost 3 metres, experts determined it came from Space X’s Dragon Spacecraft as it re-entered the earth’s atmosphere the night before. Luckily no sheep in the paddock were injured!

4. SkyLab Crashes Back to Earth

Perhaps the most well-known space junk crash was of the space station Sky Lab. In July of 1979, Space debris landed across a vast and luckily remote area near Balladonia, WA, providing a cosmic treasure hunt for locals. Many pieces were recovered including the large oxygen tank. It was reported, US president Jimmy Carter surprisingly called the roadhouse owner to offer an apology.!

5. Space Junk Mid-Air Collision

LeoLabs alerted the world in October 2020 of a possible collision between a defunct Soviet satellite and an expired Chinese rocket body. With a combined mass of 2,800kgs and travelling towards each other with a relative velocity of 53,000kph, a collision would have seeded a massive debris cloud, creating more danger in space. Thankfully the objects missed each other by only 25 meters.

Something Interesting

Want to learn a little more about Space Junk? Learn more about space junk in our latest blog!