Friday, February 15, 2008

US plans to shoot down spy satellite: defense official


Spy satellite heading for Earth

Good news-bad news.

Note: The first link below is actually a more complete story from the administration with bravado and everything. But lazy ass bloggers don't re-do a post they've already written. It specifies exactly where on the satellite they will be aiming.

OK, I know you want the bad news first. It comes in two parts.

If they fuck this up the US military is going to look incompetent to the world and no country is gonna be afraid of "accurate" missile launches against their spy satellites.

Hydrazine is a highly toxic substance, harmful to the human central nervous system and the satellite has half a ton of it.

The good news. Also in two parts.

If they are successful it will vastly improve other counties' opinions of the US military's capabilities to hit what they target.

The Hydrazine breaks down quickly in heat and ultra-violet light. Both of which should be in abundance once the thing starts burning up in the atmosphere.

OK, one more bad news. Other wire stories I've read said the thing's the size of a fucking school bus.
A US defense official said Thursday that the Pentagon plans to shoot down a malfunctioning US spy satellite before it re-enters the Earth's atmosphere next month.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said an Associated Press report, which said the preferred option was to fire a missile at it from a Navy cruiser, "is accurate."

The Pentagon, meanwhile, announced a press conference later Thursday with senior officials to discuss how they plan to deal with the satellite, including "any military aspects with respect to the way ahead."

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman would not confirm that the plans call for shooting down the satellite, but he pointedly refrained from disputing media reports to that effect.

"I'm pretty good about correcting things that I see that are out there that are wrong," he said.

...

He said parts of the mass of the 2,500 pound satellite will likely survive re-entry to the Earth's atmosphere. It includes a 1,000 pounds of a highly toxic propellant called hydrazine.

Hydrazine is harmful to the human central nervous system and can be fatal in big doses. However, it breaks down quickly in heat and ultra-violet light, the French security agency Ineris said in a report.

It gets more and more interesting. This from the WaPo.
The malfunctioning spy satellite is roughly the size of a school bus and is believed to weigh between 5,000 to 10,000 pounds, small for a spy satellite [emphasis mine].

Uh, believed to weight? Can they launch something into orbit without knowing exactly what it weighs? Doesn't the weight of the payload affect trajectory? Just asking.

Via AFP.

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