Space: December 16, 1999


: The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has begun a program that might lead to a demonstration of a new kind of satellite. The Orbital Express program includes an unmanned orbiting repair satellite, able to maneuver to, dock with, and perform work on other satellites. This would require an whole new generation of satellite designs to take full advantage, but could eventually allow satellites to be refueled and even upgraded or converted to other missions long after they are launched. --Stephen V Cole

Russian technicians ordered Cosmos-2,347 (the only ocean surveillance satellite the Russians had in orbit) to self destruct in orbit on 22 Nov. This was the second time that the Russians had disposed of an ocean surveillance satellite in this manner, and neither incident was explained. The explosion left 130 pieces of debris in a flying cloud of space junk that is 142 miles wide and 255 miles long. --Stephen V Cole