DAVID DUCROS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DAVID DUCROS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Cerise satellite collision. Artwork showing the French military spy satellite Cerise, launched on 7 July 1995, being hit by space debris on 24 July 1996. This is thought to be the first documented case of a collision between two man-made objects in space. The debris was from an Ariane rocket, and hit the satellite's gravity-gradient stabilization boom at speeds of around 14 kilometres per second. This caused the satellite to start tumbling end-over-end. Despite this, the ground crew managed to reprogram the satellite to allow the mission to continue. The satellite was in a polar orbit at an altitude of 700 kilometres at the time it was hit.
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