Skip to comments.Disabled spy satellite threatens Earth
Posted on 01/26/2008 5:30:14 PM PST by NormsRevenge
WASHINGTON - A large U.S. spy satellite has lost power and could hit the Earth in late February or March, government officials said Saturday.
The satellite, which no longer can be controlled, could contain hazardous materials, and it is unknown where on the planet it might come down, they said. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the information is classified as secret.
"Appropriate government agencies are monitoring the situation," said Gordon Johndroe, a spokesman for the National Security Council, when asked about the situation after it was disclosed by other officials. "Numerous satellites over the years have come out of orbit and fallen harmlessly. We are looking at potential options to mitigate any possible damage this satellite may cause."
He would not comment on whether it is possible for the satellite to be perhaps shot down by a missile. He said it would be inappropriate to discuss any specifics at this time.
A senior government official said that lawmakers and other nations are being kept apprised of the situation.
Such an uncontrolled re-entry could risk exposure of U.S. secrets, said John Pike, a defense and intelligence expert. Spy satellites typically are disposed of through a controlled re-entry into the ocean so that no one else can access the spacecraft, he said.
Pike also said it's not likely the threat from the satellite could be eliminated by shooting it down with a missile, because that would create debris that would then re-enter the atmosphere and burn up or hit the ground.
Pike, director of the defense research group GlobalSecurity.org, estimated that the spacecraft weighs about 20,000 pounds and is the size of a small bus. He said the satellite would create 10 times less debris than the Columbia space shuttle crash in 2003.
As for possible hazardous material in the spacecraft, Pike said it might contain beryllium, a light metal with a high melting point that is used in the defense and aerospace industries. Breathing beryllium can lead to chronic, incurable respiratory problems.
Jeffrey Richelson, a senior fellow with the National Security Archive, said the spacecraft likely is a photo reconnaissance satellite. Such eyes in the sky are used to gather visual information from space about adversarial governments and terror groups, including construction at suspected nuclear sites or militant training camps. The satellites also can be used to survey damage from hurricanes, fires and other natural disasters.
The largest uncontrolled re-entry by a NASA spacecraft was Skylab, the 78-ton abandoned space station that fell from orbit in 1979. Its debris dropped harmlessly into the Indian Ocean and across a remote section of western Australia.
In 2000, NASA engineers successfully directed a safe de-orbit of the 17-ton Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, using rockets aboard the satellite to bring it down in a remote part of the Pacific Ocean.
In 2002, officials believe debris from a 7,000-pound science satellite smacked into the Earth's atmosphere and rained down over the Persian Gulf, a few thousand miles from where they first predicted it would plummet.
Yes, it threatens the entire Earth. Its very existence. Geez, do they even look at writing samples before they hire these “reporters”?
LOL! Freaking idiots. - They get their education from watching cheesy liberal movies. - In fact that reads like a movie title
The Spy that Threatened Earth.
That's some satellite!
I really like the line
” The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the information is classified as secret. “
No $h!t sherlock , I wouldn’t want to identified as the one telling secrets either !!!!
I think they have it backwards. It’s Earth and its gravity and atmosphere that are a threat to the satellite, not the other way around.
it is probably Bush’s fault (because of all the global warming he caused)
Call the Russians and ask them to destroy it.
Yes! The Earth must be stopped!
The Krintong Mafia Headquarters, please, please Mr Satellite!
The Chinese can shoot it down...
With what, a friggin' ADA lawsuit? Must want a wheelchair ramp to crash-land...... ;-)
So who's gonna try to snort satellite debris? Huey Chavez?
I want to get off.
There goes another keyboard!
Call the Russians?!!! Are you crazy?!! this is secret stuff we’re dealing with
Let me know when it’s time to deploy the Wile Coyote umbrellas.
This looks like a job for Gamera or Godzilla.
One more chance for a free taco!
I think it’s nuclear powered and probably be crashing in Iran......
However, it would be protected by the ADA.
Will they do it again?
“Disabled spy satellite threatens Earth”
But look at the bright side...if this spy satellite does destroy the Earth, Al Gore won’t have to worry anymore about ‘global warming’.”
When Skylab was falling to earth around ‘82 or ‘83 I remember hearing that it passed overhead 16 times each day.
So, is this spy satellite physically or mentally disabled?
And Skylab fell in 1979. I had a Summer job, and a coworker also worked at a community center. He had his troop of kids wearing aluminum foil hats and spraying each other with "Lab-Off". Even made the paper with a photo of them dressing up his car as "Skylab".
my question is “WHY?” did this sat lose all telemetry, and control?
And as it makes its thousands of miles long trajectory re-entering the earth's atmosphere, gradually burning up along the way, with the winds dispersing the smoke, just how much of a concentration of the beryllium that this spacecraft might contain, do they think any one person is likely to inhale?
Let me guess, this guy believes in the danger global warming poses too.
Sue the bastard!!
more than likely,, I looked around a bit,, they are just saying spy satellite for now..
She was walking all alone
Down the street in the alley
Her name was sally
She never saw it
When she was hit by space junk
In new york miami beach
Heavy metal fell in cuba
Angola saudi arabia
On xmas eve said norad
A soviet sputnik hit africa
India venezuela. In texas. Kansas.
It’s falling fast
It keeps coming
And now i’m mad about space junk
I’m all burned out about space junk
Oooh walk & talk about space junk
It smashed my baby’s head
And now my sally’s dead
Shall I assume it goes over Florida?
I would prefer that it crashes right on top of the Borg Cube in the middle of Mecca.
“He said the satellite would create 10 times less debris than the Columbia space shuttle crash in 2003”
One time less is zero. I think what he meant to say is “one tenth the debris”. As it is, it makes absolutely no sense. I suspect the journalist is the one who screwed that up.
“Sue the bastard!!”
Yeah! Let’s get a restraining order!! That’ll stop it!
Maybe. Maybe Lacrosse?
1) if this is true, why would you expect to get the answer to your question...its a secret
2) why do you presume because its in print that its true?
The second question applies to a whole range of issues in our daily lives today.
Same thing happened in the early 80’s with Skylab. I think it ended up crashing down in the ocean.