20 Little Known Facts About Satellites That’ll Impress You


The Hitomi X-ray telescope exploded in space due to a software bug that caused it to compensate for a rotation it didn't have. This overcompensation caused a snowball effect which ultimately caused the satellite to spin out of control and explode.


The largest class of satellites are the Orion spy satellite class. These giant listening devices are equipped with an umbrella-shaped sail that is estimated to be 330 feet in diameter.


The ROSAT (the German Satellite that re-entered the earth’s atmosphere in 2011) failure was most likely due to a Russian Cyber Attack.


LES1, a satellite that was abandoned in 1967, started transmitting again in 2013, after its batteries decayed and shorted the solar panels straight to the electronics.

5Ariel 1

Ariel 1, the first British satellite launched in 1962, spent only 76 days in orbit before it was damaged by an American nuclear explosion test in space.


There is a satellite named LAGEOS orbiting Earth that is predicted to re-enter the atmosphere in 8.4 million years, carrying a message addressed to the beings/humans and civilizations of the future.

7CALIPSO satellite

The CALIPSO satellite not only measures dust concentration in the atmosphere but also specializes in scaring people in rural areas at night by blasting a 900 feet diameter beam of bright visible light on the ground for a split-second.

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8Sputnik piece

A piece of the first satellite in space, the Russian Sputnik, landed in Manitowoc, Wisconsin upon re-entry and the townspeople created a festival in its honor.

9Kosmos 954

In 1978, a Soviet nuclear reconnaissance satellite named Kosmos 954 re-entered the atmosphere along with its 50kg Uranium core, scattering debris over northern Canada. After 10 months, 6 million Canadian dollars, and covering 50,000 sq. miles, an American-Canadian team failed to recover 99.9% of the Uranium fuel.

10Spy satellite

The first American spy satellites literally dropped their film from space in a "film bucket" that was then scooped up in midair by a plane.

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