Skip to comments.US: Broken satellite will be shot down
Posted on 02/14/2008 12:09:48 PM PST by mojito
WASHINGTON - President Bush decided to fire a military missile to bring down a broken spy satellite because of the potential danger to people from rocket fuel it is carrying, officials said Thursday.
Deputy National Security Adviser James Jeffries, briefing reporters at the Pentagon, did not say when the attempted intercept would be conducted, but the satellite is expected to hit Earth during the first week of March.
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.
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.
Are you watching China? All your satellites are belong to us.
B.S. It is a loud and clear message to China, in reply to their anti-satellite program.
Good test of a Standard-3 but I can’t help wondering if we don’t still have the ASAT weapon. It worked wonderfully.
wouldn’t all the fuel burn up on re-entry. That would make a nice view coming back down to earth.
Hopefully they can hit it in fewer shots than threads.
Hmmm. I didn’t think the SM3 had the range/intercept/blah blah.
I hope they don’t frikkin miss.
A missile!? Why is THAT necessary? Doesn't anyone understand, as Senators Feinstein and Schumer do, that a single .50 BMG round is more than enough for this task? Sheesh!
As a guess, the satellite is more likely to be totally destroyed by the re-entry if is comes down in small pieces. The interception will make the destruction of highly classified technology much more likely. It will be decades before we find out just exactly what that satellite had on board that the Pentagon didn’t want anyone else to find out about. Something they didn’t want Russia of China to reverse engineer in the next few years, that is for sure.
Doesn’t matter. As soon as Hillery or Obama make it to the White House, they’ll sell the technology, cancel the program, and use the funds to pay incoming illegals. (This is not a particularly gross exaggeration.....)
That, too ... but I think the primary concern is to ensure that payload chunks don't land intact within the borders of Russia or China.
How do you “shoot down” something that is in orbit. The best you can do is smash it into a bazillion pieces. Newton made these things quite clear.
It seems that, if done right, a successful intercept could ensure it lands in the ocean rather than on enemy soil.
If this works (and it probably will), it means that the Standard-3 is essentially an operational ASAT.
Your post reminded me of something I recently saw up here on FR. In case you missed it, take a look to see the “nice” debris field China created with one of their ASAT tests. Makes me wonder how stuff still survives up there without turning into swiss cheese.
These "small pieces" will establish their own orbits, creating a nightmare for other orbiting bodies (like commercial communitication satellites.)
What will be the altitude of intercept?
Stupidest idea ever. Let’s just create the largest debris hazard we can for our astros in LEO, and then confine us to this planet.
Man, whoever decided to put politicians in charge of anything more complicated than a matchstick needs to be tarred and feathered...at the very least.
I recall we said the Standard could/would not be used in this way?
I guess they are reviewing the info now.
welly good question
Broken satellite will be shot downSorry to say I'm holding my breath on this one
Wasn’t that the one that was slung under the belly of an F-15? I heard that worked pretty well.
True. If you hit it head-on over the south Pacific, I think a lot of the chunks would end up deorbiting right there.
Very low -- within a few days of the actual entry, so the chunks will probably decay pretty quickly.
Cascade effects seen in the perspective of space travelling are theoretical possibilities that "space junk" or a satellite destroyed by a meteor will send debris throughout the orbits of most telecommunication satellites destroying them in the process and subsequently sending that debris into all possible orbits, destroying everything in orbit around the earth. It is theorized if this occurs, space flight beyond Earth will become very difficult if not impossible.
Ummm...Let's hope these guys know what they're doing.
Commercial communications satellites are far, far higher.
There is virtually NO chance that the pieces of this will get any where near such satellites.
You’re wrong. This intercept will probably be at lower than 80nm... far below “astros in LEO”
The reason it survives is that there is a whole lot of space in Space... lots more than you apparently believe there is.
I think the fuel is radioactive!
Save money and hire the Chicoms to zap it to pieces.
Is another purpose for this to prevent the imaging equipment from falling into enemy hands? Reminds me of Ice Station Zebra.
“With the debris field so low, it will decay shortly and more completely” if you go to the link in post 17, china’s debris was still in space 11 months later. How short is shortly?
Doesn’t matter, they’re creating a debris hazard. It’s a stupid idea. You have to go THROUGH that altitude to get up and down.
From the story:
"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. "
If the dead satellite is hit just before re-entry, it is very unlikely that the impact will add any orbital energy to the pieces. They will all come down, and be more likely to burn up at high altitude. The Chinese ASAT test was at higher altitude, and most of those fragments are still orbiting.
That’s a damn lie. It’s better to leave it intact and let it burn up. Atmospheric heating during reentry is all about mass/surface area ratio. The frictional heating will be much higher on the intact satellite than on the individual pieces. They’re creating more a hazard to people on the ground and in LEO by doing this.
The shot will most likely attempt to decelerate the satellite annd break it up in pieces. Probably an easy shot.
“rocket fuel” righhhhht! should be an interesting display of our missle tech and if successful, a nice message to enemies.
“..wouldnt all the fuel burn up on re-entry.”
Don’t you know that that would only add to the CO2 level in our atmosphere causing an increase in global warming?
Are you watching China? All your satellites are belong to us.That was my thought EXACTLY.
What could be better?
What will be the altitude of intercept?
Not to worry. The satellite is in a polar orbit, and the SM-3 will intercept at around 100 miles altitude. At that altitude, atmospheric drag will ensure that all fragments will de-orbit. Heck, the reason everybody is worried about this satellite is because it's going to de-orbit iself due to atmospheric drag.
As you know, commercial communication satellites are at 22,300 miles altitude.
Much closer is the International Space Station at about 220 miles altitude, but still way too high to be affected.
Remember Skylab deorbited itself due to atmospheric drag and it was at 260 miles.
(The ISS get a periodic re-boost to maintain it's Low Earth Orbit.)
You're right that it's all about mass/surface area ratio, but you're wrong that it's better off left intact. Which burns better, a log or a bunch of wadded up newspaper made from the same mass of wood?
Leaving the satellite intact will shield the innermost "guts" of the satellite, with the possibility of some secret stuff possibly surviving intact to be discovered by wandering eyes.
Break it up, and it will mostly burn up or at least become unrecognizable chunks on the ground.
Depends on whether the fuel is *merely hazardous* [like the anhydrous hydrazine emergency geneerator aboard F16s] or really hazardous like that aboard the former Soviet Union's radar ocean reconnaissance satellites, AKA RORSATs.
Which is aboard our naughty NRO launch 21 bird, and do the Future Imagery Architecture program cameras aboard utilize a nuclear radioisotope thermoelectric generator as their powerpack? Sorry, that info's classified.
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