Wednesday, February 20, 2008

I wish I were in Hawaii this week

Not so much because it's cold, but because I might be lucky enough to get a view of a bus-sized satellite being blasted out of the sky by a missile.
The Pentagon may try to shoot down failing spy satellite USA 193 on Wednesday, according to amateur sky watchers.

Ted Molczan, the dean of North American satellite spotters, who keeps an eye on the heavens from his Toronto apartment's balcony, on Monday posted on a satellite-observation Web site a "Notice to Airmen" issued earlier that day by the FAA's Honolulu Control Facility.
The reason given for shooting it down is public health concerns over the satellite's hydrazine fuel, mostly unspent due to its very short career in orbit. But, as the article points out, the bigger concern is over the advanced surveillance technology carried aboard the satellite falling into the wrong hands.


darkpixel said...

Any sensitive tech on the bird would not likely survive re-entry... and the hydrazine argument is a red herring.

This is purely an opportunity to demonstrate missile defense to NK, Iran and Vlad the Impaler... and show that or, by the way...

...all your satellite are belong to us!

Eric said...

Yeah, in all likelihood any goodies from the satellite that actually landed intact and were recovered would probably show up on eBay as lumpy, coal-like objects. But I don't think we were willing to take the chance.

But I think if we were doing this just as a demonstration to a select group of countries, we'd have been much more casual about it. Instead, the brass kept saying how difficult it would be, and that we had a window each day measured in seconds in which it could be successfully shot down, etc. It'd have been much more intimidating to just go on TV and say "Hey, y' this!...hold my beer for me, Vern."