Space Collision Debris to Orbit Earth for Millenia

This image provided by the European Space Agency shows and artist impression of catalogued objects in low-Earth orbit viewed over the Equator. Scientists are keeping a close eye on orbital debris created when two communications satellites _ one American, the other Russian _ smashed into each other hundreds of miles above Siberia Tuesday Feb. 10, 2009. The collision was the first high-speed impact between two intact spacecraft, NASA officials said. The debris field shown in this image is an artist's impression based on actual data but not shown in their actual size or density. (AP Photo/ESA) **NO SALES **

MOSCOW (AP) -- The chief of Russia's Mission Control says clouds of debris from the collision between U.S. and Russian communications satellites will circle Earth for thousands of years and threaten numerous satellites.

Vladimir Solovyov says the crash occurred in an orbit crowded by satellites from many nations.

Solovyov told reporters Friday that numerous fragments left by Tuesday's collision could stay in orbit for up to 10,000 years. He said that even tiny fragments could pose a serious threat to spacecraft made of light alloys.

No one has any idea yet exactly how many pieces of space junk the collision created. Space experts said the collision created hundreds, maybe thousands, of fragments.

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