Satellite Crash Animation in 3D with Google Earth

The recent news about two satellites colliding, a Russian Cosmos 2251 and a US Iridium 33, can now be visualized in Google Earth. Thanks to the KML development efforts of James Stafford, you can use Google Earth’s time animation feature to see the orbits of the two satellites from the six minutes before the impact until they meet. The file also includes one hour’s worth of their orbital paths for some perspective. You can use the time slider in the upper left (on GE 5) to play the animation. James also has released a version that works in the browser seen here. Great work James! (Now I’m just waiting for another version using the GE 5 record tour version where the perspective is seen flying just behind one of the satellites, and the addition of the crash and resulting debris…)

Space satellite crash in 3D in Google Earth

About Frank Taylor

Frank Taylor started the Google Earth Blog in July, 2005 shortly after Google Earth was first released. He has worked with 3D computer graphics and VR for many years and was very impressed with this exciting product. Frank completed a 5.5 year circumnavigation of the earth by sailboat in June 2015 which you can read about at Tahina Expedition, and is a licensed pilot, backpacker, diver, and photographer.


  1. ive always wondered how long it would be before satellites starting colliding. with 27 for GPS, the Chinese adding more for Compass, Russians GLONASS and now the EUs Galileo I think we’ll start to see more of this.
    Apparently there is only room for a total of 49 MEO satellites – were fast running out room!

  2. Google Earth’s time animation.Great work.
    Maybe we can find aliens and UFO with Google Earth.

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