Scroll down to read this post.


Please consider supporting my work, as I take no advertisements nor accept any sponsors in order to keep the website clean, easy to read, and to avoid any accusations of conflict of interest. Your support leaves me entirely independent, able to say whatever I think while being free from censorship or reprisals.


You can support me either by giving a one-time contribution or a regular subscription. There are five ways of doing so:


1. Zelle: This is the only internet method that charges no fees. All you have to do is use the Zelle link at your internet bank and give my name and email address (zimmerman at nasw dot org). What you donate is what I get.


2. Patreon: Go to my website there and pick one of five monthly subscription amounts, or by making a one-time donation.

3. A Paypal Donation:

4. A Paypal subscription:

5. Donate by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman and mailed to
Behind The Black
c/o Robert Zimmerman
P.O.Box 1262
Cortaro, AZ 85652

ISS forced to dodge space junk from Russia’s November ’21 anti-sat test

Last week the Russians were forced to use the engines of the Progress cargo capsule docked to ISS to shift the station’s orbit slightly to avoid a collision with some debris left over from Russia’s anti-satellite test in November 2021.

“I confirm that at 22.03 Moscow time, the engines of the Russian Progress MS-20 transport cargo ship carried out an unscheduled maneuver to avoid a dangerous approach of the International Space Station with a fragment of the Kosmos-1408 spacecraft,” Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin wrote on Telegram (opens in new tab), according to a Google translation, using Roscosmos’ designation for Progress 81.

While the Russians have consistently denied the anti-sat test and the 1,500 satellite pieces it created would cause a collision threat, yesterday’s action was not a surprise, and was predicted by many right after the test.

The concern however is not the debris that has been identified and is being tracked, since collisions from that stuff can be predicted and avoided. The concern is from the smaller pieces that were not identified.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit. If you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.

The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.

"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News


  • Steve Richter

    These unidentified pieces, once detected, are they added to the database of stuff being tracked? Is there a giant database that matches trajectories of all satellites and space junk and alerts to predicted collisions?

  • Steve Richter: Yes, the U.S. military maintains this database, and as it finds new objects it adds them to its list. Every other country in the world, including Russia, uses it.

  • pzatchok

    We need a replacement for the Russian system to move the station.

  • Col Beausabre

    “The United States Space Surveillance Network detects, tracks, catalogs and identifies artificial objects orbiting Earth, e.g. active/inactive satellites, spent rocket bodies, or fragmentation debris. The system is the responsibility of United States Space Command and operated by the United States Space Force.

    Space surveillance accomplishes the following:

    Predict when and where a decaying space object will re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere;
    Prevent a returning space object, which to radar looks like a missile, from triggering a false alarm in missile-attack warning sensors of the U.S. and other countries;
    Chart the present position of space objects and plot their anticipated orbital paths;
    Detect new artificial objects in space;
    Correctly map objects travelling in the Earth’s orbit;
    Produce a running catalog of artificial space objects;
    Determine ownership of a re-entering space object;
    Inform NASA whether or not objects may interfere with the International Space Station or satellite orbits.”

    ” Every other country in the world, including Russia, uses it.”

    It should be like the International Ice Patrol with the other countries chipping in to help pay for it. The Ice Patrol was established after the Titanic Disaster and the US Coast Guard was given the mission of conducting it.

    “The International Ice Patrol is an organization with the purpose of monitoring the presence of icebergs in the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans and reporting their movements for safety purposes. It is operated by United States Coast Guard but is funded by the 13 nations interested in trans-Atlantic navigation.

    The organization was established in 1914 in response to the sinking of RMS Titanic. The primary mission of the Ice Patrol is to monitor the iceberg danger in the North Atlantic Ocean and provide relevant iceberg warning products to the maritime community”

    Every year on April 15, an USCG Ice Patrol ship or aircraft deposits a wreath at the spot where the Titanic sank.

  • Edward

    Robert wrote: “The concern is from the smaller pieces that were not identified.

    Steve Richter asked: “These unidentified pieces, once detected, are they added to the database of stuff being tracked?

    Pieces less than 10 cm (4 inches) start to become difficult to detect, and unless they can be consistently detected they are difficult to track. At some size, less than the 2 inch wavelength of most radars, these pieces become undetectable, yet they still have a mass and velocity (energy) that can cause tremendous damage. In general, smaller pieces from a collision, explosion, or burst (such as upper stage propellant tank) are thought to be greater in number than larger pieces, the smaller the more numerous.

    So as the song says, the ISS is starting to fly into the danger zone.

    At some point, pieces become too small (still high velocity but low mass) to have the energy to cause serious damage. The upper bound to this size is somewhere in the neighborhood of the size of a grain of sand, depending upon the relative velocity of the collision.

Readers: the rules for commenting!


No registration is required. I welcome all opinions, even those that strongly criticize my commentary.


However, name-calling and obscenities will not be tolerated. First time offenders who are new to the site will be warned. Second time offenders or first time offenders who have been here awhile will be suspended for a week. After that, I will ban you. Period.


Note also that first time commenters as well as any comment with more than one link will be placed in moderation for my approval. Be patient, I will get to it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *