MOSCOW — U.S. and Russian officials traded shots Thursday over who was to blame for a huge satellite collision this week that spewed speeding clouds of debris into space, threatening other unmanned spacecraft in nearby orbits.
The smashup 500 miles over Siberia on Tuesday involved a derelict Russian spacecraft designed for military communications and a working satellite owned by U.S.-based Iridium, which served commercial customers as well as the U.S. Department of Defense.
A prominent Russian space expert suggested NASA fell down on the job by not warning of the collision. But U.S. space experts said the Russian has the wrong agency.
The U.S. military tracks the 18,000 objects in orbit, monitoring only certain threats because it lacks the resources to do everything, said Maj. Regina Winchester, spokeswoman for U.S. Strategic Command, which oversees the military's Space Surveillance Network.
Iridium spokeswoman Elizabeth Mailander said the company can move any of its 65 satellites out of the way if it gets a precise warning ahead of a crash. Such a warning was not made Tuesday, Mailander said.