February 16, 2008

US 193 -- Uncontrollable Space Junk

Aren't these guys the same yahoos trying to convince us that nuclear power plants are "clean" and "safe?"
U.S. to launch missile at broken satellite
Plan is to fire missiles from U.S. Navy cruiser before it hits Earth
MSNBC, Thurs., Feb. 14

WASHINGTON - President Bush has ordered the Pentagon to use a Navy missile to attempt to destroy a broken U.S. spy satellite — and thereby minimize the risk to humans from its toxic fuel — by intercepting it just before it re-enters the atmosphere, officials said Thursday.
[...] [Gen. James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff] 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.
[...] 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. and other countries.
A key concern at that time was the debris created by Chinese satellite's destruction — and that will also be a focus now, as the U.S. determines exactly when and under what circumstances to shoot down its errant satellite.
The military will have to choose a time and a location that will avoid to the greatest degree any damage to other satellites in the sky. Also, there is the possibility that large pieces could remain, and either stay in orbit where they can collide with other satellites or possibly fall to Earth.
[...] 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.

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