23 Geeky Facts About Satellites That Are Pretty Exciting


Sputnik piece

Sputnik 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.

12Kosmos 954

Kosmos 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.

13Spy satellite

Spy 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.



AMSAT-OSCAR 7, an amateur radio satellite which was launched in 1974 was thought to have failed in 1981, but it remained intermittently functional. It allowed Polish anti-communist activists to safely and clandestinely communicate when martial law was imposed in 1983. The telephone network had been shuttered, and other communication methods were too easily discovered.

15Corona spy satellite

Corona spy satellite

After a classified Corona spy satellite's film capsule was found by Venezuelan farmers and broken open, the US realized that labeling it "Secret" was a bad idea. Later capsules offered in eight languages a reward for returning it to American officials.



There is a satellite named STRaND-1 in orbit that's running a Nexus 1 Android as one of its main CPU's.



Satellites are programmed to avoid meteorites so they don't get destroyed. With over 8,000 satellites orbiting the Earth, only one has ever been destroyed by a meteorite.



When the Skylab satellite crashed in Australia in 1979, Australia issued the US a fine for littering. NASA still hasn’t paid the fine.



The first private satellite named OSCAR 1 was launched in 1962 (about 4 years after the launch of Sputnik-1). It was built by an amateur radio club and orbited the earth for 22 days transmitting the message "Hi" in Morse code.

20Envisat satellite

Envisat satellite

Since we lost contact with the giant Envisat satellite it's become the likeliest cause of a future 'Kessler Syndrome' whereby a low earth orbit collision causes a cascade of thousands more - potentially making space exploration and satellite use untenable for generations