Watch out for falling satellites

Watch out for falling satellites
With no one at the wheel, should we be worried about the large US spy satellite now headed for a crash landing?

US spy satellite 193 is predicted to de-orbit less than gracefully in Feburary or early March. The chances of it actually hitting a populated area are exceedingly small, but perhaps you can catch a few micrograms of it using Kiteman's How to catch a star Instructable.

What is happening?

An out-of-control US spy satellite will crash to Earth in the coming months, government officials say. The satellite is large enough that remnants are likely to survive atmospheric re-entry and strike the Earth, sometime in late February or early March, says Gordon Johndroe, a spokesman for the National Security Council.

Is that normal?

"This is relatively routine in that satellites de-orbit all the time," says Johndroe. Pieces of uncontrolled debris heavier than two tonnes -- mostly discarded rocket stages -- crash to Earth as often as once every three weeks, says Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer and launch observer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Many discarded pieces retain some power, so that controllers on Earth can guide them to a point far from human habitation, usually using a final dive into an ocean. In 2001, Russian space officials broke up the old Mir space station in this way over the South Pacific. That's not the case for this US one, however.

"Obviously, we want to take a look at the potential for it to land in a populated area," says Johndroe.

What are the chances of it crashing through my roof?

Exceedingly slim, says McDowell. Remember that some 70% of the Earth is water, and most lands are void of people. "There is no reason for people to get alarmed about it," he says.

According to the NASA Orbital Debris Program Office, there have been no confirmed instances of serious property damage or injury caused by crashing debris in 40 years.

Picture of Watch out for falling satellites
sort by: active | newest | oldest
1-10 of 28Next »
US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday that the successful shoot-down of a rogue US spy satellite demonstrated that America's missile defense system works.

So, finally, seems it was a real military demonstration.
If it has failed, they would have maintained their "it's an attempt to destroy a dangerous rogue satellite full of toxic fuel" (we want to protect your life people of the world).
And as it's a full success, they shamelessly recognize it was a test for the defense system .... =oP

In this new military race, USA is number two this time.
China won the first place !
Who will try for the third place ? Russia ? Japan ? NK ? =o)
It's done ! They think (they're not really sure yet) they successfully destroyed the satellite ! Hooray !! (it's not yet a 100% hooray though) What's funny, it's that China is very worried and want USA gives to the world every informations to be sure the satellite debris are not threat for the for the security of space etc ... Actually, they're doing the same thing USA did to them when, few months ago, it was China who destroyed a weather satellite with a missile ...
The Navy is to confirm today whether or not the fuel burned up. Also, some people think that this was just a test of the Navy's missile program to target foreign spy satellites.
Also, some people think that this was just a test of the Navy's missile program to target foreign spy satellites.

Maybe it's both ? destroying a dangerous fuel, testing missile program ... oh yes, and destroying classified tech too !

Goodhart9 years ago
Well, every year our weatherman panics when the first snow threatens, and everyone buys out the store, then no snow comes. But a few missed ones later when things seem calmer, and we get a big one, than no one is prepared for it. "Plan for the worst, expect the best, and be prepared to be surprised." :-)
Goodhart you sound like the boy scout who got high...
Hmm, ok I'll bite, I am not sure I know what you mean :-)
"Plan for the worst, expect the best, and be prepared to be surprised."
Well, if you think about it, if you have planned for the worst, expecting the best, normally things fall somewhere in between; however, where-ever they fall, you will not expect is precisely, so you will be surprised, normally pleasantly so if you have really planned for the worst. :-)
1-10 of 28Next »