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Vietnam adjusts satellite orbit to dodge probable collision in space

Thursday, August 21, 2014, 13:42 GMT+7

Vietnam’s first earth-observing satellite, VNREDSat-1, changed its orbit to duck a possible collision with another object cruising at high speed last week, the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology said on Wednesday.

>> VNREDSat-1 sends its first earth photos >> Vietnam’s first remote sensing satellite launched after delay

The academy’s Center for Small Satellite Control and Exploitation, made changes to the orbit on August 15 after it received a warning from the U.S. Joint Space Operations Center (JSPOC) that the VNREDSat-1 might collide with an object that was flying at a speed of 14,000 meters per second.

According to JSPOC, a collision could occur at 8:26 pm on August 15 (Vietnam time) with a probability of 0.279 percent, the center said, adding that this rate is much higher than the international threshold of 0.1 percent at which the orbits of any satellites involved are required to be adjusted for safety reasons.

After consulting international experts, the Vietnamese center decided to change the orbit of the VNREDSat-1 and the modification was completed at 7:00 pm the same day.

Two hours later, data transmitted from the satellite showed that it was traveling in a new orbit and that the device still operated normally at the time, the center said.

The satellite center noted that adjusting the VNREDSat-1’s orbit was the most complicated task it had ever performed in relation to the satellite.

VNREDSat-1, which was launched into space from the Guiana Space Center, French Guiana on May 7, measures 600mm x 570mm x 500mm and weighs 115kg. It was built at a cost of €55.8 million (US$73.9 million), with the funding coming from the French government’s official development assistance and the Vietnamese government. During its operation, the VNRED Sat-1 provides high-resolution satellite images that serve social and economic development purposes, natural resources management, environmental protection, and natural disaster detection and control. With this satellite, Vietnam has become the fifth ASEAN nation to own a remote sensing satellite after Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore. In 2008 and 2012, Vietnam also launched two telecommunication satellites, Vinasat 1 and Vinasat 2, both of which are operating in a geostationary orbit at an altitude of about 35,800km.

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