The space object, catalog number 32398, broke into several pieces on April 15. About informs 18. US Space Defense Fleet.
Space journalist Anatoly Zak, author of the RusSpaceWeb portal, said that object 32398 is the engine of the upper stage, which in 2007 put three GLONASS satellites into orbit.
The American astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell reports the same thing. In a series of tweets, he writes that the satellites were launched with a Proton rocket. In its upper echelon were two small auxiliary engines whose task was to properly place the fuel in the tanks and create a slight acceleration to restart the main engines.
These engines are part of the “Launch Support System” (SOS), about 64 of them currently orbiting the Earth.
“POP engines do not consume all of their fuel when running. And years or decades later, they tend to explode into an unfortunate eruption, leaving a pile of debris in an extremely elliptical orbit. At least 54 POP engines have exploded so far,” the astrophysicist writes.
The POP engine that had just exploded was flying in a long orbit of 388 by 19,074 km. US Space Defense personnel counted at least 16 pieces.