India deorbits a defunct satellite early, in a controlled manner

India’s space agency ISRO yesterday successfully deorbited its defunct Cartosat-2 satellite, using the satellite’s leftover fuel to bring it down in a controlled manner, about three decades sooner than its orbit would have decayed naturally.

The satellite was launched in 2007 to provide detailed ground images of India, and completed its mission in 2019. As noted in ISRO’S press release:

ISRO opted to lower its perigee using leftover fuel to comply with international guidelines on space debris mitigation. This involved reducing collision risks and ensuring safe end-of-life disposal, following recommendations from organizations like the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UN-COPOUS) and the Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee (IADC).

While such actions are a good thing, that governments in India and Europe are suddenly making a big deal about it now — after almost 3/4s of a century of inaction — is not for those reasons, but to lay the political groundwork for allowing the international community, led by the UN, to impose new regulations on all space efforts, both government and private.

Be warned. They are the government, and they are here to help you.