The U.S. Space Force's 18th Space Control Squadron (18 SPCS) has confirmed the breakup of NOAA 17 which was formally decommissioned by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in 2013 following an 11 year on-orbit operating life.
“Data indicates the breakup likely occurred March 10,” the Space Force said in a post on Twitter. The 18 SPCS is tracking approximately 16 pieces, which are being incorporated into routine conjunction assessment to support spaceflight safety. There is no indication that this breakup was caused by a collision with another object, Space Force officials said. NOAA 17 was launched into orbit in 2002.
A similar event happened in November 2015 when the U.S. military's Joint Space Operations Center investigated the breakup of the NOAA 16 weather satellite.