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North Korea's Satellite Is Out of Control

samzenpus posted about a year and a half ago | from the wobble-and-bobble dept.

Government 450

Koreantoast writes "After failing on numerous occasions, North Korea has finally put a satellite in orbit. But according to US officials, it is now 'tumbling out of control.' This is bad news, and more bad news, covered in a double layer of extra bad news. From the article: 'According to US officials, it appears that North Korea's new satellite has failed to achieve a stable orbit and is now "tumbling out of control." The greatest danger is the threat of it colliding with another satellite, adding to the growing debris field around the earth.' A separate Gizmodo article provides links for tracking the current location of the satellite."

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450 comments

send the mini-shuttle over there to wack it (5, Funny)

peter303 (12292) | about a year and a half ago | (#42267573)

Its unclear if the new min-shuttle has offensive capabilities.

Re:send the mini-shuttle over there to wack it (4, Interesting)

ThatsMyNick (2004126) | about a year and a half ago | (#42267605)

I hear it has the capability to capture satellites. This should a good time to test it and make it public.

Re:send the mini-shuttle over there to wack it (3, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | about a year and a half ago | (#42267799)

On a satellite with no attitude control, seriously?

Re:send the mini-shuttle over there to wack it (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42267905)

In a wildly different inclination as well.

Re:send the mini-shuttle over there to wack it (5, Funny)

Culture20 (968837) | about a year and a half ago | (#42267941)

The manic depressive ones are the most important to get under control.

Re:send the mini-shuttle over there to wack it (1)

Hentes (2461350) | about a year and a half ago | (#42267709)

But the old shuttles most certainly do. Assuming they can get one out of the museum and battle-ready in time, they could go up and capture it.

Re:send the mini-shuttle over there to wack it (1)

geekoid (135745) | about a year and a half ago | (#42267795)

if by 'in time' you mean 5-8 years? then no.

Re:send the mini-shuttle over there to wack it (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year and a half ago | (#42267865)

I doubt they can. It's not hard to capture a drifting object, but if it's actually "out of control" (fired a thruster until it obtained an energetic spin), then they'd have more work to do than just send up a shuttle with grappling arm.

Re:send the mini-shuttle over there to wack it (4, Interesting)

Guspaz (556486) | about a year and a half ago | (#42267983)

Assuming it's tumbling out of control, it has a predictable orbit and safe distance. Could they not maneuver the X-37B close to it with the main engine pointed towards the satellite (oriented in the direction opposite of the orbit), and fire the thruster, slowing down the satellite and hastening re-entry?

This is assuming the primary concern is that it shouldn't hit anything before re-entering, not the re-entry itself. After all, a random re-entry has incredibly low chances of doing any damage, while an in-orbit collision is pretty disastrous in terms of debris.

I would imagine that the X-37B would have to consume a great deal of fuel just to reach and match orbits with the satellite, if it were even possible.

Re:send the mini-shuttle over there to wack it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42268239)

Such as a net with steel cable on a winch

Re:send the mini-shuttle over there to wack it (5, Informative)

clj (153252) | about a year and a half ago | (#42268023)

Neither the "mini-shuttle" nor the retired shuttles are in a position to reach the orbit of the NK satellite. It is in a sun-synchronous orbit, which means its orbital inclination is near-polar. The current OTV-3 (mission name of the so-called mini-shuttle) is in an orbit of around 40 degrees, which makes it incapable of reaching the NK satellite's inclination, and no space shuttle ever flew in a polar orbit and nor had any plans/capability to do so after the Challenger accident.

If I had a nickel for every time I've seen someone propose that two satellites get together in orbit when such a thing is practically impossible, I'd be hundreds of dollars richer...

Re:send the mini-shuttle over there to wack it (2, Informative)

peragrin (659227) | about a year and a half ago | (#42268275)

what do you think the OTV-3 is doing up there? taking photos on film and bringing them back?

No it is testing new ion engines that actually allow for decent orbital delta V.

actually I don't know but I could see the air force doing actual in space engine design and testing on the thing.

Start betting on where it'll land? (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | about a year and a half ago | (#42267721)

Not sure if there would be time to deploy the military shuttle thing... especially if this satellite starts dragging on the upper atmosphere.

The betting pool is now open as to where it'll re-enter. At 100kg or so, I'm not certain it'll survive the trip back down, but bits of it might.

Re:Start betting on where it'll land? (4, Funny)

crazyprogrammer (412543) | about a year and a half ago | (#42267863)

is the taco bell target still in the pacific? Mir didn't hit it but I still want that free burrito!

Re:Start betting on where it'll land? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42267885)

I hope it lands back in North Korea so its citizens can get some return on their investment.

Re:Start betting on where it'll land? (2, Interesting)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about a year and a half ago | (#42267995)

Not sure if there would be time to deploy the military shuttle thing...

By amazing coincidence, they just launched the "military shuttle thing" -

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2246629/U-S-military-sends-mystery-space-drone-orbit---STILL-wont-tell-mission-be.html [dailymail.co.uk]

Re:send the mini-shuttle over there to wack it (2)

pezpunk (205653) | about a year and a half ago | (#42267767)

the greatest threat is that it collides with another satellite and creates a debris field, so your solution is ... to blow it up?

Dear Leader's Satellite is So Advanced... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42267591)

...it can cover multiple orbital trajectories while imperialist pig Yankee capitalist satellites are only capable of a single orbit.

Re:Dear Leader's Satellite is So Advanced... (2)

siddesu (698447) | about a year and a half ago | (#42267777)

On the other hand, pig yankee capitalist and pig red commie swine had more than one fiery death terror satellite wobbling in many orbits in the past before they forgot the art and became incapable of maintaining more than one orbit per satellite.

Re:Dear Leader's Satellite is So Advanced... (1)

geekoid (135745) | about a year and a half ago | (#42267813)

If they only had google they would have know how it was done.

Re:Dear Leader's Satellite is So Advanced... (2, Funny)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year and a half ago | (#42267851)

...it can cover multiple orbital trajectories while imperialist pig Yankee capitalist satellites are only capable of a single orbit.

Our spy satellites can cover multiple orbital trajectories too, and without exploding a few weeks after launch or burning up in the atmosphere. Oh, and you might want to get that mole on your back looked at; Our intelligence analysts think it might be cancerous. Or not. We're just saying, after spending so much money on surveillance watching your every move, it'd be a shame to waste the investment. By the way, kudos on your launch. No really, we mean that -- we're really impressed you can do that when most of your country doesn't even have electricity or basic cable for your citizens to watch.

Sincerely,

Your Imperialist Pig Yankee Capitalist friends.

Re:Dear Leader's Satellite is So Advanced... (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year and a half ago | (#42268271)

> Dear Leader's Satellite is So Advanced

, sayeth a guy sitting on his sofa.

Kim Il Stewie: Oh, is my satellite launch system not as good as your satellite launch system? Yeah, you probably got a way better satellite launch system. Stupid dog.

hmmm... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42267595)

US launches secret space drone... NK satellite suddenly goes into an uncontrolled descent.

1 + 1 = ...

Re:hmmm... (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year and a half ago | (#42267849)

Entirely plausible. I wonder if anybody tracked both birds...

Re:hmmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42268155)

US has housing boom. NK's Temple of Doom construction stops.

1 + 1 = 5

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ryugyong_Hotel

Conspiracy Theory (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42267597)

China uses "clumsy" and "amateurish" North Korea to wage a proxy war in space?

Re:Conspiracy Theory (1)

Guspaz (556486) | about a year and a half ago | (#42268029)

Except North Korea's dangerous attempts at spaceflight endanger China's interests in space just as much as they damage the US'. Massive amounts of debris in orbit aren't good for anybody.

Re:Conspiracy Theory (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42268273)

Depends on where the debris is headed, doesn't it?

Oh crap! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42267607)

why won't my GPS work?

Re:Oh crap! (1)

penix1 (722987) | about a year and a half ago | (#42268147)

Turn right now!

Calibrating.....

How can this be? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42267613)

If you're in orbit, you're in orbit. If your orbit is too low then it's a decaying orbit but "tumbling out of control" is a bit of hyperbole from the press. It might be harder to predict the re-entry if the satellite is spinning and has no attitude control; maybe that's what they mean. I suppose it's possible that it could strike that atmosphere and bounce before re-entering, but will it bounce high enough to impact something in LEO? Details please. I bet this is a tempest in a teapot; not that I condone NK's actions or think they're particularly smart.

Re:How can this be? (5, Insightful)

tragedy (27079) | about a year and a half ago | (#42267775)

"tumbling out of control" is a bit of hyperbole from the press

I would have to say "the greatest danger is the threat of it colliding with another satellite, adding to the growing debris field around the earth" is another fine example of that hyperbole. I mean, it's probably technically true. The odds may be infinitesimal, but still higher than the odds of any other danger.

Re:How can this be? (1)

Deadstick (535032) | about a year and a half ago | (#42268087)

Right...loss of attitude control likely means the satellite will fail in its mission, but has little to do with when and where it will burn in, or whether it will hit some other satellite. It just joins the several thousand tons of broken-down crap already up there.

The author of TFA would seem to be thinking in airplane terms, which I suppose is a narrow cut above a car analogy...

Re:How can this be? (5, Interesting)

edjs (1043612) | about a year and a half ago | (#42268209)

The article is quoting "US officials" when describing it as tumbling. If the satellite is spinning around more than one axis, then tumbling is the appropriate description, and is strong evidence that it is not under control.

ASAT (1)

WGFCrafty (1062506) | about a year and a half ago | (#42267617)

Seems like it's time for another anti-sat test.... you know, for our safety.

It may not be stupidity (2)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | about a year and a half ago | (#42267627)

It may not be flat out stupidity. Perhaps it is a matter of not having the data required to make the appropriate calculations. We know everything in orbit, gravitational tug well beyond 20 decimal places on all faces of the earth. Just a couple of those missing variables could really make physics not work how you predict

Re:It may not be stupidity (5, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | about a year and a half ago | (#42267759)

Or, it was designed to be a simple parabolic missile, but NK test firing a missile is banned by the UN, so they pack in enough fuel to get to orbit, any kind of orbit, and there was never a plan to make it a stable orbit nor were there thursters on board to do so. In other words, a missile test disguised as a orbital launch.

Re:It may not be stupidity (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42267985)

...a missile test disguised as a orbital launch.

Pretty much like the entire US lunar program.

LOL (1, Insightful)

kc67 (2789711) | about a year and a half ago | (#42267631)

And they wonder why the world doesn't want them to have nuclear weapons.

Re:LOL (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42267701)

This is so true because we've never had issues with OUR space projects.

Re:LOL (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42267921)

This is so true because we've never had issues with OUR space projects.

Depends on which "OUR" you are referring to. Us folks in our enclave of the Lower Neisserian Peninsula have three things:

1) Slashdot
2) The American Home Shopping Network
3) Flawless Space Program

Re:LOL (1)

epyT-R (613989) | about a year and a half ago | (#42268101)

or nuclear weapons/power programs..

ooh (1)

demonbug (309515) | about a year and a half ago | (#42267645)

Looks like it is headed for S. Korea in about 10 minutes - this should be fun. Of course, it might have done that already and I just missed it; the orbit track only goes back about 1 orbit (~90 min).

Re:ooh (1)

demonbug (309515) | about a year and a half ago | (#42267677)

On another note - anyone know of a similar tool that lets you view the orbit/track in 3D? It would be cool to watch, and would give a much simpler to understand view of the eccentricity etc.

Time to send (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42267651)

Maybe it's time for the nations of the world to pony up the cash and send a "hoover vacuum" satellite to clean up the loose debris. They should also send a cat satellite that would be terrified of the other satellite. Of course, some know it all would point out that space is already a vacuum.

Re:Time to send (1)

olsmeister (1488789) | about a year and a half ago | (#42267869)

Maybe we should just call in something like this. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Time to send (2)

gmuslera (3436) | about a year and a half ago | (#42268129)

Probably more in the line of this [nerdbastards.com]

Re:Time to send (1)

jittles (1613415) | about a year and a half ago | (#42267877)

Maybe it's time for the nations of the world to pony up the cash and send a "hoover vacuum" satellite to clean up the loose debris. They should also send a cat satellite that would be terrified of the other satellite. Of course, some know it all would point out that space is already a vacuum.

No need. Dark Helmet is on his way right now to suck our atmosphere up. We can just have him clean up the debris in orbit while he's at it.

Connecting... (1)

asmkm22 (1902712) | about a year and a half ago | (#42267655)

The tracker just says "Connecting..."

That can't be good.

North Korea's Out of Control (0)

davidwr (791652) | about a year and a half ago | (#42267675)

There, fixed that for you.

Pat yourselves on the back, world... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42267695)

For helping them with space exploration.

So what does the world do about it? (1)

Jonah Hex (651948) | about a year and a half ago | (#42267713)

If it does end up damaging another satellite, what can anyone do about it? It's not like North Korea is going to nicely exchange insurance info with the aggrieved party or pay for damages. Hell, if it's a US company I doubt they'd even be allowed to accept funds from there legally if they were amenable. I could see several scenarios in which this leads to war with North Korea, and frankly I'm not really caring who takes them out at this point. - HEX

Re:So what does the world do about it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42267785)

Best case scenario, it hits a non-critical Chinese communications satellite. China gets pissed, and NK loses what is the closest thing to an Ally that it has in the region.

Re:So what does the world do about it? (1)

geekoid (135745) | about a year and a half ago | (#42267855)

no, China needs pawns right now. It would need to hit a critical Chinese satellite.

Re:So what does the world do about it? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42267791)

I could see several scenarios in which this leads to war with North Korea

Tom Clancy... is that you?

Re:So what does the world do about it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42267803)

It would probably be best for everyone if it hit a Chinese or Russian satellite. It might cause them to reconsider their laissez-faire policies toward North Korean missile launches.

Re:So what does the world do about it? (1)

malv (882285) | about a year and a half ago | (#42267845)

The world can't screw with NK. Their whole country is one well-disciplined army.

Re:So what does the world do about it? (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about a year and a half ago | (#42267937)

Depends what it hits.
Recall the fun the US had with http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galaxy_IV [wikipedia.org]
Finding out your telco are not really a network with some redundancy, more one point of profit vs risk.
A US weather satellite? Lets hope some smart people can list what kind of sats are near the same zone.
The US will always fund the funding for a spy sat, no need to worry about that.
Unique telco, science could be a real issue if anywhere in the same region????

Re:So what does the world do about it? (4, Insightful)

Sasayaki (1096761) | about a year and a half ago | (#42268009)

Just hold on a moment.

Okay, look. North Korea are not the world's nicest people from what we know, either to their southern neighbour or (far more commonly) their own people. Let's just get that out of the way right now.

But seriously. Seriously. "Takes them out"? A Korea War II would be extremely costly for the western world and over what? A satellite that, worst case, smashes into one of the US Military's satellites (say a GPS one, not one so secret they'd just go "WHAT SATELLITE, IT WAS A TRAINING EXERCISE"). Then the debris takes out a few other satellites, and the GPS network takes a hit, being down for a week or so.

That's in my mind the absolute worst case scenario, and it would be pretty bad. We use GPS for everything; the airlines would take a hit, the road toll would go up, some smart missiles and bombs would stop working.

And you want to fucking bomb them for this? It's clearly just an accident. Sure, criminal ineptitude possibly, but that's what sanctions are for.

There's no reason anyone should die over this even in the absolute worst case. Stop crying for war as your country plummets over the fiscal cliff of economic crisis. And, of course, you sound so confident you can win (protip: You didn't win last time).

Are you fucking insane? Or one of those hardcore American evangelical Christians whose line of thought goes:

God blesses America to do whatever the fuck we want. Skirmishes? Bah, bomb those Athe-commies back to nothing. It escalates to total war? It's Christians vs Atheistic Commies! God will bless us with victory. It escalates to nuclear war? Praise God, the end times are upon us! The rapture is here!

So I repeat my question. Are you fucking insane?

Re:So what does the world do about it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42268229)

Are you fucking insane?

Nope, just self-righteous and drunk with power.

Re:So what does the world do about it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42268245)

You send in a black ops team to remove their missile launch capability.

I thought it's "Chinese satellite out of control" (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42267733)

As in "North Korea is a Chinese satellite" that goes "out of control", often when it seems to suit Chinese interests.

I don't even know why the US bothers negotiating with North Korea. About the only two things the US can do to North Korea is

1. Bribe 'em - which really is a counterproductive way to prevent misbehavior, as it just encourages more misbehavior
2. Bomb 'em - just plain counterproductive

Serious.

Let Japan, South Korea, and to a lesser extent Taiwan and Russia work to make North Korea behave. Japan and Taiwan in particular can make the Chinese jerk North Korea to heel pretty quickly - just threaten to openly field nuclear weapons. You'd better believe the threat of a nuclear Taiwan would get Beijing knickers in a huge knot in about half a millisecond. Japan, not so much, but even so a nuclear Japan would do a lot to knock back Chinese influence in east Asia.

Re:I thought it's "Chinese satellite out of contro (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about a year and a half ago | (#42267925)

Taiwan = China

Re:I thought it's "Chinese satellite out of contro (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42268125)

Wrong

Re:I thought it's "Chinese satellite out of contro (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42268309)

Don't you mean: Wong?

X-37B timing? (2)

andydread (758754) | about a year and a half ago | (#42267743)

One has to wonder if the Air-Force's X-37B kinda gave it a nudge.

Re:X-37B timing? (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about a year and a half ago | (#42267967)

One has to wonder if the Air-Force's X-37B kinda gave it a nudge.

Ssh, we're not supposed to admit those exist yet.

Re:X-37B timing? (3, Funny)

epyT-R (613989) | about a year and a half ago | (#42268205)

pff.. why when they can just send up the X302 to blow it out of the sky?

Worst part (1)

ildon (413912) | about a year and a half ago | (#42267757)

We can't shoot it down or destroy it without risking an international incident.

Re:Worst part (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | about a year and a half ago | (#42267897)

But we could accidentally hit during a test of our anti-satellite rockets...

"On the morning of Thursday December 13 and 4am, a test of our SM-3 missile defense system tumbled out of control right into the ballistic path of the recently launched North Korean satellite. We would like to extend out sincerest apologies to the North Korean government."

Re:Worst part (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42267953)

You can shoot it down as long as you don't talk about it. The Norks hardly have any radar tracking that wasn't purchased bolted onto a Soviet SAM.

Re:Worst part (3, Funny)

epyT-R (613989) | about a year and a half ago | (#42268249)

Oh noes.. the UN might write us a letter telling us how angry they are..

the sat is not out of control (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42267761)

The NKorea Satellite is not out of control - they are just testing maneuver in space....yeah, that's it :)

Here's the Apocalypse in Motion (0)

devphaeton (695736) | about a year and a half ago | (#42267797)

On 12/12/12, the wheels were set in motion for the 12/21/12 Apocalypse.

A chain reaction of low-orbit and geostationary satellite collisions cause flaming satellite debris to rain down from the sky in a cataclysmic event. Now that Twinkies have been phased out, not even cockroaches have survived.

Could be worse (2)

future assassin (639396) | about a year and a half ago | (#42267815)

they might Need Another Seven Astronauts.

Re:Could be worse (1)

epyT-R (613989) | about a year and a half ago | (#42268281)

"uhh huhuhuh and that was the first time a teacher was shot into space. huhuhuhuh"
"that was cool heheheh"

http://www.n2yo.com/?s=39026 (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42267829)

I checked. It doesn't look like it's tumbling now. False alarm, nothing to see here, move along ---

----aaaaaaaahhhhhhhh!!!!! What's that thing hurtling towards m

I think what you mean is: (1)

Lord_of_the_nerf (895604) | about a year and a half ago | (#42267895)

"Rejoice, for the Supreme Leader's weaponized satellite is close to striking a blow against western oppression."

Nice try (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42267911)

This is just another one of those times where the rest of the world pats North Korea on the head, and says, "Nice try, champ. You'll get 'em next time."

Is anyone taking them seriously?

Blast it out of the sky (1)

AlanS2002 (580378) | about a year and a half ago | (#42267923)

Problem solved.

my car/house insurance... (1)

RedHackTea (2779623) | about a year and a half ago | (#42267943)

doesn't insure debris from North Korean satellites... <[:'(-|-<

Why not use our hidden mil space shuttle to catch (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about a year and a half ago | (#42267955)

I'm kind of wondering whey we don't use one of the NSA space shuttles ... pardon me, "test" vehicles that don't exist ... to capture it and bring it safely down to Earth.

Or would I be breaking Super Secret Double Probation by admitting the vehicles we launched do exist?

Cause if the death satellite crashes on Seattle or Vancouver or NYC there's going to be a lot of fired NSA people.

Re: Better Question... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42268317)

Why don't we just nudge it into a stable orbit, then use it as political capital to help foster 'peaceful' relations with NK, so that Murdoch will be able to legally use NK labor to produce entertainment for his umbrella of media endeavors? :)

best post (4, Funny)

hurfy (735314) | about a year and a half ago | (#42267989)

from the article after someone makes a prediction of it crashing somewhere.

One of the follow-ups: " I predict it will crash into a Mayan temple in 9 days "

You guys have a tough bar to reach in comments this time :)

And this... (1)

Orcris (2652275) | about a year and a half ago | (#42268005)

...is why poor countries shouldn't have rocket technology.

My apologies (4, Funny)

pla (258480) | about a year and a half ago | (#42268013)

Figures, Best Korea would launch a satellite with a bad attitude.

Pity, Japan's having pitching a fit over NK's poor angle of attack, but y'all just need to get over it - NK clearly has no inclination to just roll over and take it!

Interesting (1)

Huntr (951770) | about a year and a half ago | (#42268025)

I read in the thread [slashdot.org] about the launch how development of tech like the launch rocket are the only way for the Norks to keep the US from fucking with them.

Commenter never specified whether it was through fear or from being doubled over in laughter.

Re:Interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42268145)

It gives DPRK the ability to change the global balance of power: Fire off the Kessler Syndrome where nobody can launch anything past atmosphere, and then there will be no space race, and everyone will be competing on the sub-orbital front (ICBMs)

This also encourages other countries which have nothing but repression behind their name to do the same thing... send up a satellite spreading sand clouds into various orbits, and that effectively denies space for everyone for centuries.

All as planned (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42268035)

This was all planned by NK to disrupt other countries satellite, while feigning innocence.

China (1)

minstrelmike (1602771) | about a year and a half ago | (#42268081)

Maybe it will land in China and inspire them to do something a little more drastic about North Korea.

What goes around, comes around (5, Interesting)

BeerCat (685972) | about a year and a half ago | (#42268099)

In the original space race, when the Soviets launched a satellite, it was seen in the west as a proxy for an ICBM - the (correct) theory being, that a nation firing a sub-orbital rocket was "interesting", while a nation launching an orbital craft meant they could, potentially, hit "anywhere" (subject to orbital inclination and other similar factors)

Now that the Soviet Union has fallen, to be replaced by "friendly" (yeah, right) Russia, other nations can launch satellites with impunity (China, India etc). Most of them are, if not "friendly" to the west, are at least "not complete and utter fruitbats" (that's a technical term BTW).

North Korea (DPRK), though, is still transitioning from the "complete and utter fruitbat" of Kim Jong-Il to Kim Jong-Un, so that, at this stage, it is hard to say whether the new Dear Leader's plans for satellites are peaceful or not.

Assumption 1: it is peaceful, so an out of control satellite is, as USA, Russia and several others have found out, merely an expensive mistake
Assumption 2: it is deliberately provocative, (we launch a satellite, so an ICBM is easier), so an out of control satellite is... well what, exactly?

Let's not forget that part of DPRK's posturing is directed inwards - their recent "nuclear accident" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ryanggang_explosion) - to quote wiki "No neighboring nations have claimed any detection of radioactive isotopes characteristic of a nuclear explosion.", even though their news media hinted it as such, means that even an unsuccessful satellite will still be seen as a "we are a major power" - when broadcast to those in DPRK

So... where from here? DPRK joins the space race. That is still a concern. Does it matter that the satellite failed? Only if it was intended to be "just a satellite" If it was a "proof of concept" for an ICBM, then a wonky orbit is still an orbit

Now witness the power (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42268103)

Of this fully unarmed and out-of-control battle... Satellite?

Stop with the sentionalist crap already (2, Insightful)

Cochonou (576531) | about a year and a half ago | (#42268115)

All right, calling the rocket launch a "weapon test" was not totally uncalled for, because we all know that space rocket technology is dual use by nature, and can result in the development of ballistic missiles.
But this...
The satellite is just a small spacecraft on a polar low earth orbit. It seems its attitude control system has failed, this is why it tumbles around. It's not the first example of a failed satellite on low earth orbit... and it's not because it is tumbling that its trajectory has become unpredictable. It will just decay in the atmosphere and burn before reaching the ground, as most low earth orbit satellites do at the end of their life. Controlled re-entries are rare, except for massive objects such as the Mir space station.

Korean electronic garbage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42268135)

The satellite must have been manufactured by LG or Samsung.

Re:Korean electronic garbage (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about a year and a half ago | (#42268285)

I was just thinking the onboard computer is probably using a version of Windows Mobile...

What are the chances? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42268169)

What are the chances of accidentally hitting another satellite? According to the article, there's only one such case recorded, in 2009, when an American satellite launched in 1997 hit a decomissioned Russian satellite launched in 1993. That'd indicate the chances of a collision might not be astronomically low, even when the satellites are working as expected; anyone with a better space background than me care to make an educated guess of the odds?

What if? (1)

Dartz-IRL (1640117) | about a year and a half ago | (#42268177)

What if we had a reuseable spacecraft with a large enough cargo area and crew capacity to go up there and grab the thing before it causes havoc, stick it in its cargo bay and fly it back and see what it actually is...

Wouldn't something like that be dead handy?

Right on Target (1)

Venner (59051) | about a year and a half ago | (#42268195)

I love how the yellow line on the satellite-tracker here [n2yo.com] crosses within a few yards of my house on full zoom.

Having a satellite crash into my home would not make my day. Having a North Korean satellite crash into my home would not make the North Koreans' day, once Washington got involved. Hopefully it'll just splash down into the ocean or burn up on reentry.

This is a job for either for (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42268219)

Team America or the Film Actors Guild.

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