The Soviet Satellite Crash in Canada: A Nuclear Disaster and International Fallout

TLDR In 1978, the crash of the Soviet spy satellite Cosmos 954 in Northern Canada resulted in the spread of nuclear debris. The Canadian government launched Operation Morning Light to recover radioactive material, billing the Soviet Union for cleanup costs.

Timestamped Summary

00:00 In 1978, a Soviet spy satellite called Cosmos 954 crashed in Northern Canada, spreading nuclear debris.
01:10 In 1977, the Soviet Union launched a spy satellite called Cosmos 954 to monitor NATO and commercial sailing vessels.
02:17 The RORSAT satellites were designed to be in service for a few months, powered by a small nuclear reactor with a thermionic converter to convert heat to electricity.
03:11 The Soviet Union lost control of the Cosmo-954 satellite, including the unit that was supposed to jettison the nuclear core into a disposal orbit.
04:16 The Soviet satellite Cosmo-954 reentered the Earth's atmosphere uncontrolled with its Uranium-235 core, prompting the Canadian government to launch Operation Morning Light to recover radioactive material.
05:10 Only a small fraction of the Soviet satellite Cosmo-954 was found during the search operation, with the majority of the radioactive material either vaporizing or decaying by the time it reached the ground.
06:06 The Canadian government billed the Soviet Union over $6 million for the cleanup of the Cosmo-954 satellite, but the Soviets only paid $3 million, making it the only claim ever filed under the Space Liability Convention.
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