Ecuador's only satellite may have been damaged in space collision

May 23, 2013 at 4:42 PM

QUITO, Ecuador, May 23 (UPI) -- Ecuador's first satellite, launched last month, has collided with debris from an old Russian rocket but it is unclear if it has been damaged, officials say.

The Pegasus nanosatellite, designed and built in Ecuador, was launched into orbit April 25 by China.

The Joint Space Operations Center in the United States, which monitors all artificial Earth-orbiting objects, said there had been no head-on crash but "data indicated a lateral collision with particles" of the Soviet-era rocket, Satellite Today reported Thursday.

"Pegasus could be damaged or spinning out of control but, because it's still in orbit, we have hope," Ronnie Nader, head of the Ecuadorian Civilian Space Agency, tweeted.

"Ecuador still has its satellite, the people still have Pegasus," he wrote, saying it could take up to 48 hours to assess damage.

The 2.6-pound nanosatellite had been orbiting at a distance of 404 miles while transmitting pictures of the Earth.

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