David Kirkpatrick

February 14, 2008

Spysat revisited

Filed under: Science — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:40 pm

This post is an update for this story.

The gist is the US lost control over a spy satellite. The loose bird was expected to reenter the atmosphere randomly sometime in February or March.

No longer the case. The Pentagon is now going to forcibly remove the spysat from orbit in advance of its unguided tumble back to earth.

From the linked NY Times article:

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon plans to shoot down a disabled 5,000-pound spy satellite before it enters the atmosphere in early March, a senior Pentagon official said Thursday.

The official said the operation was expected to be carried out from a Navy cruiser that would fire a missile specially fitted for the mission. Other details on the timing and location of the operation were not available, pending a Thursday afternoon briefing at the Defense Department. Navy ships routinely carry missiles to shoot down aircraft.

It was not immediately known if the operation was prompted by fears that the satellite’s debris would pose a danger if the satellite were allowed to tumble back into the atmosphere on its own; by reasons of secrecy, or by some combination of factors.]

Edited 2/18/08 — Looks like the takedown is scheduled for this Thursday, February 21st.

Update 2/20/08 — Success for the US Navy.

The first opportunity for the Navy to shoot down the satellite came about 10:30 p.m. ET Wednesday. The plan included firing a missile from the USS Lake Erie in the Pacific Ocean west of Hawaii to destroy the satellite.

“A network of land-, air-, sea- and space-based sensors confirms that the U.S. military intercepted a non-functioning National Reconnaissance Office satellite which was in its final orbits before entering the Earth’s atmosphere,” a Department of Defense statement said.

“At approximately 10:26 p.m. EST today, a U.S. Navy AEGIS warship, the USS Lake Erie, fired a single modified tactical Standard Missile-3, hitting the satellite approximately 247 kilometers (133 nautical miles) over the Pacific Ocean as it traveled in space at more than 17,000 mph.”

Find the Bad Astronomy take here.

1 Comment »

  1. […] (Find an update to the spysat story here.) […]

    Pingback by Spysat reentry « David Kirkpatrick — February 14, 2008 @ 1:41 pm


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