‘The Walking Dead’ Season 10 Premiere: Satellite & Radiation Risks Explained

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From the beginning of The Walking Dead Season 10 premiere on AMC, we’re shown a satellite and then later what looks like a bomb falling to the Earth. What exactly is going on? Does it pose a radiation risk? Read on for details. This post has spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 10 premiere, so only read on if you’re ok with minor spoilers about the satellite. 


The Satellite Is an Old USSR Satellite

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At the beginning of the episode, you can see a satellite flying through space and then it looks like it’s hurtling toward the Earth. It’s actually not uncommon, especially in an apocalyptic setting, for a satellite’s orbit to decay.

We’re clearly shown that the satellite in question here is an old USSR Soviet satellite. With enough atmospheric drag, it can slow and deorbit, falling back to the Earth.

Of course, this could cause some major issues, like fires or craters depending on the satellite’s size.

Some viewers pointed out that a satellite this old isn’t likely to have much technology that will be useful to Eugene, although it’s certainly worth a try. It’s even less likely that much of that tech would survive crashing down to the ground.

One viewer suggested the satellite might have some solar panels that were likely lost in the crash.


Does It Pose a Radiation Risk?

Viewers might be wondering if the satellite poses a radiation risk. This is actually addressed later in the episode by a concerned helper, whom Eugene scoffs at when he quickly retorts that there is no radiation risk from the satellite. (If you want to learn all about apocalyptic survivors dealing with radiation scares, you’ll want to watch the most recent season of Fear the Walking Dead.)

Interestingly, the Soviet Union did launch some nuclear-powered satellites. The last nuclear-powered satellite was launched by the Soviet Union in 1988, Business Insider reported. More than 30 nuclear-powered satellites were in orbit as of 2016, but the U.S. only launched one. The rest were from the USSR.

Business Insider noted that America’s SNAP-10A, which was launched in 1965, will hopefully have depleted its radioactive cargo when it crashes. However, the publication warned that if one of the satellites suddenly crashes to the ground, it might release some radioactivity.

In 1978, the USSR’s satellite Kosmos 954 crashed and spread radioactivity over 48,000 square miles, and the USSR paid $10 million to Canada for the damage.

The 1965 satellite launched by the U.S. is in a 3,000-year orbit, Wise International noted. Most of the other nuclear satellites were retired into orbits that should last hundreds of years, allowing their radioactivity to decay.

Below are some spoilers for the very end of The Walking Dead

Eugene is convinced, however, that there are no radiation dangers from this particular satellite. So as viewers, we should accept that as in-universe fact.

In this photo below, you can see more USSR marking on the satellite.

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And here is Eugene working on the satellite, not concerned about radiation risks.

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