How fast is orbital debris travelling? I believe the speeds would vary based on the debris size, so what would be the range of velocities in that case?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Why do you think it would vary based on the size? $\endgroup$ Dec 14 '19 at 15:27
  • $\begingroup$ The speed of debris is the same as anything else in orbit. Size matters not, young Jedi! $\endgroup$
    – GdD
    Dec 14 '19 at 17:00
  • $\begingroup$ Sorry, I meant to say weight. $\endgroup$
    – user33891
    Dec 17 '19 at 3:52

Space debris speeds depend on these variables:

  • the original orbit of the object that created the debris
  • the amount of energy in the event that created the debris (explosion, collision, breakup, accidental release)
  • the weight of the debris (given the same amount of input energy, lighter fragments will be launched at higher speeds)
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for your answer. So how do I go about calculating the speed once I know these variables? $\endgroup$
    – user33891
    Dec 17 '19 at 3:54
  • $\begingroup$ Speeds vary widely. If you start with a satellite collision, you get thousands of fragments going off at various angles and speeds. If you know the orbit of a piece of debris, you can calculate its speed: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orbital_speed $\endgroup$
    – Hobbes
    Dec 17 '19 at 10:28