A collision last week between a defunct Russian military spacecraft and a low-earth orbit (LEO) mobile communications satellite owned by Iridium has renewed calls for the establishment of an international body that would monitor and control the expanding field of space objects and debris that, in years to come, could pose significant challenges for commercial and military satellite launches. The February 10 crash took place without warning 485 miles over Siberia, destroying one of the 66 LEO satellites used by Iridium to provide global wireless voice and data services. Iridium, which launched the affected satellite in 1997, serves 300,000 customers worldwide , including the U.S. Department of Defense, maritime users, and scientists at the South Pole. Officials have identified the Russian spacecraft as a non-operational Cosmos-series satellite that was launched in 1993 and that weighs in excess of one ton. The collision completely destroyed both satellites, producing two large clouds of debris that, according to U.S. military sources, could force operators of nearby spacecraft to “[play] dodge ball” for months until the debris settles into a predictable orbital pattern. Although the incident represents the fourth accidental collision of man-made objects in space since 1991, it is the first between two intact satellites and was termed by a NASA spokesman as “by far, the most severe.” While claiming that “this event is not the result of a failure on the part of Iridium or its technology,” an Iridium official said the company would move one of its in-orbit spares to replace satellite capacity lost in the collision. Although the U.S. Strategic Command tracks more than 18,000 man-made objects in orbit, it lacks the manpower and data processing capabilities to predict collisions on a timely basis. Noting that “the military has been lobbying for more space situational awareness since the Chinese two years ago sent a missile to destroy a defunct weather satellite,” General James Cartwright, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said, “we would be remiss if we didn’t take advantage” of last week’s incident to seek greater international cooperation.