Navy To Shoot Down Satellite

Discussion in 'OFF-Topic / Misc.' started by ccheese, Feb 14, 2008.

  1. ccheese

    ccheese Member In Perpetuity
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    WASHINGTON — The Pentagon, under orders from President Bush, is planning to shoot down a broken spy satellite expected to hit the Earth in early March, the White House said Thursday.

    U.S. officials said that the option preferred by the administration will be to fire a missile from a U.S. Navy cruiser, and shoot down the satellite before it enters Earth's atmosphere.

    White House press secretary Dana Perino said that Bush made his decision during the past week and asked experts to come up with a way to destoy the satellite.

    He made the decision to shoot it down because the satellite was carrying the rocket fuel hydrazine, Perino said.

    Initally the administration believed that the danger from the falling satellite did not pose a large problem, but decided it was best to shoot it down when experts decided that the unused hydrazine did pose a danger.

    Asked about the matter, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said, "We have been looking at ways to mitigate the possible risk to human lives and to demonstrate our continuing commitment to safe and responsible space operations."

    The disabled satellite is expected to hit the Earth the first week of March. Officials said the Navy would likely shoot it down before then, using a special missile modified for the task.

    Other details about the missile and the targeting were not immediately available. But the decision involves several U.S. agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department.

    One of the main goals of the satellite's destruction is to prevent any sensitive equipment from falling into the wrong hands.

    "We are worried about something showing up on e-Bay," defense and intelligence expert John Pike said, adding that breaking up the satellite's pieces lessens the chance that sensitive U.S. technology could wind up in Chinese hands.

    "What they have to be worried about is that a souvenir collector is going to find some piece, put it on e-Bay and the Chinese buy it," said Pike, who is director of the defense research group GlobalSecurity.org.

    "The Chinese and the Russians spend an enormous amount of time trying to steal American technology," Pike said last week. "To have our most sophisticated radar intelligence satellite — have big pieces of it fall into their hands — would not be our preferred outcome."

    The State Department declined to comment on the plan ahead of the Pentagon announcement, but said its role in such a scenario would be to inform foreign governments that the action was not hostile in nature.

    "You want to make sure that everybody understands exactly what actions are being taken so there are no misunderstandings and misperceptions and also to reassure people vis-a-vis treaty obligations," spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters.

    Shooting down a satellite is particularly sensitive because of the controversy surrounding China's anti-satellite test last year, when Beijing shot down one of its defunct weather satellites, drawing immediate criticism from the U.S. and other countries.

    A key concern at that time was the debris created by Chinese satellite's destruction — and that will also be a focus now, as the U.S. determines exactly when and under what circumstances to shoot down its errant satellite.

    The military will have to choose a time and a location that will avoid to the greatest degree any damage to other satellites in the sky.
    Also, there is the possibility that large pieces could remain, and either stay in orbit where they can collide with other satellites or possibly fall to Earth.

    It is not known where the satellite will hit. But officials familiar with the situation say about half of the 5,000-pound spacecraft is expected to survive its blazing descent through the atmosphere and will scatter debris — some of it potentially hazardous — over several hundred miles.

    The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

    Short-term exposure to hydrazine could cause coughing, irritated throat and lungs, convulsions, tremors or seizures, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    Long-term exposure could damage the liver, kidney and reproductive organs.
    Where the satellite would land would be difficult to predict until it descends to about 59 miles above the Earth and enters the atmosphere.

    It would then begin to burn up, with flares visible from the ground, said Ted Molczan, a Canadian satellite tracker. From that point on, he said, it would take about 30 minutes to fall.

    The satellite is outfitted with thrusters — small engines used to position it in space. They contain the toxic rocket fuel hydrazine, which can cause harm to anyone who contacts it. Officials have said there are about 1,000 pounds of propellant on the satellite.

    Known by its military designation US 193, the satellite was launched in December 2006. It lost power and its central computer failed almost immediately afterward, leaving it uncontrollable. It carried a sophisticated and secret imaging sensor.

    The military's Ballistic Missile Defense System, known as "Sea-Based Midcourse," could destroy the satellite just as it begins to re-enter the Earth's atmosphere, said James Lewis, a satellite expert at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, a conservative think-tank.

    That would undercut any international criticism of a "war in space," Lewis said, and reframe it as a ballistic missile defense exercise.

    He said it could also avoid the problem of creating a large debris field of satellite pieces that would continue to orbit.

    The goal, said Lewis, would be to explode the satellite into small pieces that would mostly burn up as they re-enter the atmosphere.

    In the past 50 years, about 17,000 man-made objects have re-entered the Earth's atmosphere.

    The largest uncontrolled re-entry by a NASA spacecraft was Skylab, the 78-ton abandoned space station that fell from orbit in 1979. Its debris dropped harmlessly into the Indian Ocean and across a remote section of western Australia.

    In 2000, NASA engineers successfully directed a safe de-orbit of the 17-ton Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, using rockets aboard the satellite to bring it down in a remote part of the Pacific Ocean.

    In 2002, officials believe debris from a 7,000-pound science satellite smacked into the Earth's atmosphere and rained down over the Persian Gulf, a few thousand miles from where they first predicted it would plummet.


    This from Fox News... (and CNN)

    Charles
     
  2. Wayne Little

    Wayne Little Well-Known Member

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    Will I need to get my umbrella out, Charles?:)
     
  3. DBII

    DBII Active Member

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    I was wondering if they would try shooting it down. I was hoping they would send a F-15 after it. Reagan would be proud.

    DBII
     
  4. ccheese

    ccheese Member In Perpetuity
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    They want to shoot it down so it goes into the drink (donno which one).
    However..... one never knows, does one ?

    I'd opt for the hard hat, tho.....:evil4:

    Charles
     
  5. comiso90

    comiso90 Active Member

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    China was admonished for doing the same thing... "shooting down" a satellite. There really isnt such a thing as "shooting down". A missile will only break it into millions of pieces that then become space debris that endanger working satellites.

    It's a real concern...

    The alternative is to have some charred pieces end up on e-BAy.
    "For Sale slightly used, highly sensitive spy satellite fragments"

    .
     
  6. plan_D

    plan_D Active Member

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    They should bring back the ASM-135A for the F-15 (ASAT). That'll sort the thing out and it has been used successfully before when F-15A from Edwards AFB destroyed Solwind P78-1 in september 1985.
     
  7. ccheese

    ccheese Member In Perpetuity
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    What they plan to do is hit it with a missile just as it enters earths
    atmosphere. That way it will break up, the pieces will burn up and there
    will be no space junk. That is.... if all goes according to plan...

    Charles
     
  8. comiso90

    comiso90 Active Member

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    I'd like to learn more about the science of that...
    The last time I read about anti-satellite missiles, they weren't designed to make a direct hit. They have a fragmentation heavy warhead that explodes near the satellite and shreds it.

    I suppose a bunch of smaller pieces would burn up more neatly than on huge chunk - as long as the interception is low enough.

    .
     
  9. Matt308

    Matt308 Glock Perfection
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    Two observations...

    1) The US better not miss. With the Chinese success a miss will be a significant loss of face. [I recognize the difference in intercept parameters, but for the public it does not matter.]

    2) They aren't shooting that damn thing down because of a hydrazine hazard. Give me a break. They launched that satellite in Dec 2006. Any technology that might be recovered is security sensitive. Small pieces mean greater burn risk = less overall security concern.

    Ground casualties are acceptable. Believe me.
     
  10. plan_D

    plan_D Active Member

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    comiso, I know that the ASM-135A did not have a warhead but used pure kinetic energy to destroy its target; given that the missle weight 2,600 lbs and had a top speed of 15,000 MPH it's pretty safe to say that the satellite is going to be destroyed. The project was abandoned in 1988 due to the possible violation of using military arms in space. I think all modern ASAT are ground launched and possibly as you described.

    Here's a F-15A carrying the missile :
     

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  11. comiso90

    comiso90 Active Member

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    That's not a Pegasus is it?

    >>>I know that the ASM-135A did not have a warhead but used pure kinetic energy to destroy its target;

    Really? Wow.... It's amazing how the more advanced we get, the more we rely on our roots. The first projectiles were spheres of stone and then iron... eventually, we added explosives to the mix. Now, Anti-tank rounds are metal darts and ant--sat weapons are kinetic!

    What a concept... destroying a satellite with kinetic energy! wow...

    .
     
  12. plan_D

    plan_D Active Member

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    Don't be mistaken the ASM-135A is no longer in service. I have been reading more on ASAT systems and I have discovered the Soviet IS system that approached the target satellite over time while in co-orbit, it then explodes at some distance away to shred the target (like in the picture shown below). The USN plans on using a standard SM-3 missile to destroy the satellite as it enters the earths atmosphere; it's not an ASAT missile.

    Pictures are:

    Pegasus rocket under a B-52
    F-15A launching ASM-135A; Sept. 1985
    Soviet "Destroyer of Satellites" concept.
     

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  13. comiso90

    comiso90 Active Member

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    If thats the case, they may as well fire a salvo of half a dozen just to ensure a higher degree of success.

    zero tolerance for error at that closing speed... I'm surprised a SM3 can adjust and track with a closing speed like that.

    Yeah.. that photo of the satellite shredder is just what i was remembered. Thanks.
     
  14. Matt308

    Matt308 Glock Perfection
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    The SM-3 has shot down ballistic missiles whose flight profiles are even faster.
     
  15. ccheese

    ccheese Member In Perpetuity
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    Just in case anyone is interested, the big shoot is this Thursday, the 21st.

    Charles
     
  16. ccheese

    ccheese Member In Perpetuity
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    Last Chance To See Doomed Satellite

    CHESAPEAKE, Va.
    Amateur astronomers say Hampton Roads residents will be able to view satellite USA 193 before it is blown to pieces by U.S. missiles – or it crashes to Earth.
    “The satellite itself is viewable now,’’ said Ted Forte of Back Bay Amateur Astronomers in Virginia Beach. “There are a couple of times in the next couple of weeks we’ll be able to see it.’’
    The satellite will make “good passes’’ over the area at 6:16 p.m. today and 6:09 p.m. Wednesday , said Glendon Howell of the Norfolk Astronomical Society. The 5,000-pound satellite is supposed to be as bright as the brightest star, Howell said.
    “You can see this with your naked eye,’’ Howell said. “Binoculars can help you distinguish it from an airplane or something like that.’’
    The satellite failed almost immediately after its launch in December 2006. If it is not destroyed by missiles in the coming days, the satellite is expected to fall to Earth in early March.
    President Bush ordered the satellite shot down because it could potentially fall to Earth with toxic fuel.
    The Pentagon’s attempt to shoot down the satellite could occur over the Pacific Ocean, making it unlikely that locals will have a view of the military operation. Local residents, however, may be able to see “the brightness’’ from the many pieces of debris if the military hits the target, Howell said.
    This week will be an opportune time. “There aren’t any other good passes until March 8 after these, and the satellite will most likely have been destroyed or re-entered by then,’’ Howell said.

    This from the Virginian Pilot

    Charles
     
  17. ccheese

    ccheese Member In Perpetuity
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    According to Good Morning America, [2/21/08] the shot was a success.
    There was a secondary explosion, indicating the fuel tank was hit.

    Charles
     
  18. Bucksnort101

    Bucksnort101 Well-Known Member

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    And I can't even hit a squirrel at 100 paces with my .22 rifle lately!!! Nice shooting.
     
  19. Haztoys

    Haztoys Member

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    I read China put it military on alert over it...
     
  20. wilbur1

    wilbur1 Active Member

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    Probably to learn how to hit a moving target :lol:
     
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