Kosmos 2251 3D model
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At 16:56 GMT on 10 February 2009 it collided with Iridium 33, an Iridium satellite in the first major collision of two satellites in Earth orbit. The Iridium satellite, which was operational at the time of the collision, was destroyed, as was Kosmos-2251. The Kosmos satellite was launched in 1993. Russia has not commented on claims the satellite was out of control. NASA reported that a large amount of debris was produced by the collision.
Kosmos (Russian: ?????? meaning Cosmos) is a series of satellites which were launched by the Soviet Union and are being launched now by Russia. The first of them was launched on March 16, 1962.
Any satellite which doesn't fit into any particular program is designated as a Kosmos satellite. As of November 14, 2008 2,445 Kosmos satellites had been launched. The satellites have very different roles, early ones were used for scientific exploration, some of them are failed interplanetary probes. It is suspected that most are military reconnaissance satellites and satellites for other military uses.
Early Kosmos satellites had typic body which could be equipped with various equipment. There were six classes, labelled Kosmos A, B, C, D, E and F (a satellite of each class would be numbered independently of this). Later satellites had different bodies.
The designation is given only to satellites which are in Earth orbit. Typically, Soviet planetary missions were initially put into an Earth parking orbit as a launch platform with a rocket engine and attached probe, which would then be launched toward its targets with an engine burn with a duration of roughly 4 minutes. If the engine misfired or the burn was not completed, the probes which would be left in Earth orbit would be given a Kosmos designation, which allowed the Soviets to claim a more successful record for their planetary exploration programs, and also may have helped further disguise genuine military satellites of the Kosmos series.
Some of the Kosmos satellites are the so-called RORSAT Radar-equipped Ocean Reconnaissance Satellites.
Some Kosmos satellites are equipped with nuclear reactors.