Satellite may hit earth

You’ve probably already heard that a US spy satellite known as USA-193 is no longer able to keep itself up because the software on board has failed. This is a secret spy satellite so we don’t at present know what the software was (any guesses?). It is big enough to not totally burn up in the atmosphere, and there are concerns that the satellite has nasty toxins on board. But again, since it is a secret spy satellite we can’t know this either.

The expected date of entry is late February or early March.

Here is a source of info and a picture of the satellite.

Comments

  1. #1 Flaky
    January 29, 2008

    It didn’t say in the link that there was a software problem, only that the computer had rebooted itself several times. It could very well be a hardware problem. If the satellite is a potential threat, why not use the shuttle to bring it down? A few millions for an extra shuttle mission is nothing from the 600 billion USA defence budget.

  2. #2 Dave Briggs
    January 29, 2008

    Uh oh! I am going to get my umbrella out just in case! LOL! I have heard that if we were to have a real bad CME, ( coronal mass ejection), from the sun we could end up with a bunch of satellites laying around on earth. Isn’t there some sort of super glue or something they can use to keep them up there? LOL!
    Dave Briggs :~)

  3. #3 Greg Laden
    January 29, 2008

    Somewhere I read that this should not have happened because the software problem should have been discovered on the ground before launch.

    This is largely speculation, but yes, without confirmation I would not absolutely assume it was a software problem. BUt that is what people who are talking about this seem to think.

  4. #4 Sam Wise
    January 29, 2008

    Flaky,

    “If the satellite is a potential threat, why not use the shuttle to bring it down?”

    For a couple of reasons:

    1) It isn’t really a potential threat, it’s highly unlikely to do any damage at all.

    2) Shuttle missions take lots and LOTS of planning. You’d need at least a year starting from scratch. Meanwhile this satellite is coming down within a month or two.

    3) The satellite’s too low to safely conduct a shuttle mission at.

    4) Since the satellite is out of control, you couldn’t get a shuttle safely near it (you’d more likely collide with the thing).

    5) A shuttle mission wouldn’t cost “a few millions,” it’s closer to a billion dollars.

    Sam