Friday, February 15, 2008

Satellite Roulette

Catch up on the previous story "More Death From Above Expected"

President Bush has ordered the Pentagon to use a Navy missile to destroy a broken U.S. spy satellite that is hurling towards Earth.
The satellite is said to be heading towards Cleveland, Ohio and to minimize the risk to humans from its toxic fuel the military are hoping to intercept it just before it re-enters the atmosphere.

It is the first opperation of its kind undertaken in an effort to minimise the potential harm that may occur to the people in the area where the satellite would crash , the officials said.

Deputy National Security Adviser James Jeffrey, briefing reporters at the Pentagon, did not say when the attempted intercept would be conducted, but the satellite is expected to smash to earth during the first week of March.

"This is all about trying to reduce the danger to human beings," Jeffrey said "we are hoping to deflect most of the debris towards Kentucky and Tennessee which is more acceptable than Ohio .
" Gen. James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at the same briefing that the "window of opportunity" for such a shootdown, presumably to be launched from a Navy ship, will open in the next three or four days and last for seven or eight days.
He did not say whether the Pentagon has decided on an exact launch date. Cartwright said this will be an unprecedented effort; he would not say exactly what are the odds of success but as he'll be in a bunker and his pension is safe he isn't too concerned.
He said a Navy missile known as Standard Missile 3 would be fired in an attempt to intercept the satellite just prior to it re-entering Earth's atmosphere. It would be "next to impossible" to hit the satellite after that because of atmospheric disturbances, Cartwright said.

A second goal, he said, is to directly hit the fuel tank in order to minimize the amount of fuel that returns to Earth.

Cartwright also said that if an initial shootdown attempt fails, a decision will be made whether to take a second shot, that decision depends on if it will cost more to lose a few cities or lose one city and a second missile?

Shooting down a satellite is particularly sensitive because of the controversy surrounding China's anti-satellite test last year, when Beijing shot down one of its defunct weather satellites, drawing immediate criticism from the U.S. which means they look more than a little bit hypocritical now.

A key concern at that time was the debris created by Chinese satellite's destruction which killed over 400 of the countries' citizens the exact number isn't known, that will also be a focus now, as the U.S. determines exactly when and under what circumstances to shoot down its errant satellite.

Officials familiar with the situation say about half of the 5,000-pound spacecraft is expected to survive its blazing descent through the atmosphere and will scatter debris , some of it potentially hazardous over several hundred miles.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.
Known by its military designation US 193, the satellite was launched in December 2006. It lost power and its central computer failed almost immediately afterward, leaving it uncontrollable.

It carried a sophisticated and secret imaging sensor with potentially damaging data on board if recovered by a foreign state.

The public is asked not to panic and if they do then to do so in an orderly manner.

3 comments: said...

I'm all for panicking in an orderly fashion.

frog ponds rock... said...

Yay for military intelligence....


Oxy the moron said...

military intelligence?