Earlier today, private American company Bigelow Aerospace was informed by the US Air Force that this Genesis II spacecraft had a slim chance of falling on a dead Russian spy radio.
News of potential orbital smash-ups comes via Bigelow Aerospace's 19199024] Twitter account .
"Today, we are informed by the US Air Force that there is a 5.6% chance that Genesis II will collide with the dead Cosmos 1300 satellite within 15 hours," the tweet said. "While this is a relatively low probability, it brings to light that Earth's low orbit is becoming more and more of a waste."
Bigelow Aerospace posted its tweet at 1:30 p.m. ET. The collision, should it occur, will take place around 4:05 am tomorrow (September 18, 2019), according to the company.
"Future residential spaces will address this reality and danger," Bigelow continued in a subsequent tweet. "This proliferation, if not controlled by numbers, could endanger human life in low Earth orbit."
Genesis II was an experimental space that went into space in 2007. It effectively retired in 2011 following its failure to maneuvering the system, which actually lasted two years longer than it should have done, a Bigelow spokesman said to Gizmodo by phone today. Genesis II remains in orbit but no longer collects data.
According to Bigelow's spokesman, the United States Air Force told the company today that the odds of a potential collision, at 5.6 percent, were low enough and that the collision was considered dangerous or potentially significant percent and upwards. The spokesman said this was the first time the U.S. firm had warned. Air Force of a potential collision involving one of its spacecraft. Genesis II is one of two Bigelow spacecraft currently in orbit, another is Genesis I.
The defunct Kosmos 1300 satellite tracking, developed and operated by the former Soviet Union, dates back to 1981.  The Genesis II spacecraft is scheduled to be in orbit at some point in the 2020s, so its destruction won't be a huge loss. Of greater concern is that a collision would produce a large amount of space, which would increase the chance of further collisions, in an endless cascade of orbital destruction.
The purpose of the Bigelow tweet, in addition to sharing the news, was to express the company's concerns about firing low Earth orbit, a Bigelow spokesman said. "We see a lot of satellites in space, and satellite swarms involving potentially thousands of satellites, and there are no restrictions and licenses," he said.
Although the concerns expressed by Bigelow are certainly valid, the truth of the matter is that one of its own retired spacecraft – which has lost its maneuvering capability – has been in danger of crashing into an old, dead satellite since early of 1980, in an incident that did not involve any launches after 2007. A Bigelow spokesman said that any satellite launched by the company in the future "would have its own dedicated capabilities," which should allow the company to actively avoid collision.
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With possibilities approaching 6 percent, a The collision is unlikely but still uncomfortable. In an email to Gizmodo, Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and an expert on satellites, said it was "a higher possibility than ever before." Earlier this month, for example, the ESA broke down when the US Air Force advised the agency that its Aeolus satellite had 1 in 10,000 chance of damaging one of SpaceX's Starlink satellites.
The relatively high odds of a collision between Genesis II and Cosmos 1300 may have to do with the size of both objects, McDowell says. Potential collisions between satellites "happen frequently," he said, but this seems to be a more serious example than ever before.