FEB. 21 UPDATE AND VIDEO BELOW!
Well, by now we all know that a US spy satellite is getting closer and closer to landing on our heads, but never fear, the Bush Administration is all over it.
Despite initial statements that it could not be shot down, it looks like either tonight or tomorrow a Navy ship will be firing off a couple of missile in an attempt to shoot this bad boy out of the sky, weather permitting:
The officer said that three Navy warships were in position in the Pacific Ocean to launch the interceptors, and that radar and other tracking equipment, both in space and on the ground, were being monitored at Vandenberg Air Force Base, in California, and at a space command headquarters in Colorado Springs.
The operation is being controlled from the Strategic Command headquarters in Omaha, Neb., with additional monitoring of information transmitted from the interceptor managed by the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency.
Visually speaking, via reuters:
Apparently despite circling the earth every 90 seconds or so, once the order is given, the Navy will have a window of “tens of seconds” in order to hit this thing, which weighs 5,000 pounds (including 1,000 pounds of toxic rocket fuel) and is the size of a school bus.
But not to worry, just in case they miss, FEMA is on top of it:
A United States satellite is falling back to earth and could potentially impact almost anywhere on the planet…
Perhaps trusting this to folks who couldn’t even feed flood victims in New Orleans is a bad idea, but no matter.
I am not worried though. I have seen the Simpsons episode where Bart discovers a comet aimed directly for Springfield. The military tries to shoot it down, but misses, destroying the only bridge out of town. Luckily, Homer’s prediction proves right and one can only assume we are destined for a similar result:
Homer: What’s everyone so worked up about? So there’s a comet – big deal. It’ll burn up in our atmosphere and whatever’s left will be no bigger than a chihuahua’s head.
Bart: Wow, Dad, maybe you’re right.
Homer: Of course I’m right. If I’m not, may we all be horribly crushed from above somehow.
Beyond all that, there better be footage of this. I want multiple angles, high def footage I can download and watch over and over again. Hell, if they run it live, i’ll even get up in the middle of the night to see this…
At approximately 10:30 p.m. EST on Wednesday night, the Navy shot down the offending satellite in an explosion one paper described as “like the death star.” The military is also “80 – 90 percent confiden[t] the fuel tank was destroyed,” which was the part they were aiming for as it contained the toxic bits. From the New York Times:
“Completing a mission in which an interceptor designed for missile defense was used for the first time to attack a satellite, the Lake Erie, an Aegis-class cruiser, fired a single missile just before 10:30 p.m. Eastern time, and the missile hit the satellite as it traveled at more than 17,000 miles per hour, the Pentagon said in its official announcement.
“A network of land-, air-, sea- and spaced-based sensors confirms that the U.S. military intercepted a nonfunctioning National Reconnaissance Office satellite which was in its final orbits before entering the Earth’s atmosphere,” the statement said.”
USA! USA! USA!
The military will also continue to monitor the debris as it falls through the atmosphere at thousands of miles per hour, but the rest of it is expected to burn up to chunks no bigger than the aforementioned chihuahuas head.
The best news of all of this, however is that there is footage and you know, it does look a little like the Death Star explosion from the original Star Wars, though not as cool as the re-released Star Wars…