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Speculation On the Doomed Satellite

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the nro-doa dept.

Space 229

scim writes "Intelligent speculation has led one knowledgeable observer to believe the satellite recently announced to have failed is a radar satellite named USA 193. According to an earlier story on the satellite: 'The experimental L-21 classified satellite, built for the National Reconnaissance Office at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars, was launched successfully on Dec. 14 [2006] but has been out of touch since reaching its low-earth orbit.'" The ArmsControlWonk story leads off with what purports to be a photo from the ground of USA 193.

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Which is it? (1)

mastershake_phd (1050150) | more than 6 years ago | (#22206150)

So did it run out of fuel or is it dead?

Re:Which is it? (4, Informative)

Sub Zero 992 (947972) | more than 6 years ago | (#22206322)

Well, your options are not mutually exclusive.

Most likely:

a) its solar wings failed to deploy
b) it is therefore in deep sleep
c) what goes up (and remains within the Hill Sphere) must come down

ymmv

Re:Which is it? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22206460)

c) what goes up (and remains within the Hill Sphere) must come down
The Moon is in the Hill Sphere of the Earth and is receding. It will never come down. Given enough time (and if the Sun didn't do certain nasty things in the future like becoming a red giant) the Moon would eventually orbit the Sun separately. And given enough time after that it would have a gravitational interaction with the Earth and be thrown into a different place in the Solar System.

Re:Which is it? (1)

McLovin (1145861) | more than 6 years ago | (#22206576)

Which is it? It's the Satellite of DOOM! [wikipedia.org]

In the 1985 audio and book adventure Satellite of Doom Megatron and Soundwave kidnap thousands of humans and force them to bury tons of coal in the desert. Sealing the humans in the cave they set off high temperature explosives that turn the carbon in the coal and humans into a gigantic diamond lens that they plan to launch into space. Bumblebee discovers the Decepticon launching site and Optimus Prime sends Skyfire to take it out, but he fails. Megatron launches the lens into space and uses it to focus the sun's rays and melt the shale in the Rocky Mountains into oil. Optimus again sends Skyfire to stop the lens and Prowl instructs Ratchet to build extra fuel tanks for the Autobot jet's trip to space. Despite his best efforts the diamond is unharmed and Skyfire burns up on reentry of Earth's atmosphere. As the boiling oil threatens to kill millions on the West Coast, the Autobots build a mile long mirror to reflect the lens rays back on it, shattering it. The Autobots launch an assault on Megatron's base, but the Decepticon leader and Soundwave escape in their drilling mole machine.

Re:Which is it? (1)

JavaBear (9872) | more than 6 years ago | (#22206596)

I doubt that the Moon can transition from an Earth orbit to a Solar one, if I'm not mistaken is it more likely to enter an increasingly elliptical orbit, which may indeed cause it to intersect Earth.
I am no astronomer though, so I'm merely applying laymans logic (or lack thereof :-)

MOD DOWN - ELECTRIC UNIVERSE (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22206666)

This is a standard claim of the electric universe crowd, that Earth/moon magnetic interactions are slowly repelling the moon.

Re:Which is it? (2, Funny)

ThirdPrize (938147) | more than 6 years ago | (#22206376)

Blue Screen of Death actually. Just needs someone to go up and reboot it.

Re:Which is it? (1)

AndGodSed (968378) | more than 6 years ago | (#22206616)

If it is the satellite in question it failed to initiate. It was launched Dec 2006 and never got going after successful launch.

It also has a 4% chance of ploughing into Canadia.

Re:Which is it? (1)

craagz (965952) | more than 6 years ago | (#22206880)

I think it lost its Maneuverability. Have they figured out when they will be able to tell the location it might crash? I have to get my digital camera ready to take some pictures, if it is going to land near here somewhere.

Re:Which is it? (1)

Nullav (1053766) | more than 6 years ago | (#22207190)

Or for that matter, when it'll crash? (Though, I suppose one could get a good idea where it would fall just by knowing when it'll stop circling.)

Bad design... was it made in china? haha (1)

cheekyboy (598084) | more than 6 years ago | (#22206950)

Seriously, who makes a damn sat with no backup or backdoor telemetry. Even something at 50bits/second on UHF, anything to send debugs/logs anything, a simpler smaller
computer not using the main powergrid, but something small maybe even normal batteries, but kicks in for 10mins/day every 2 days or something.

Too much object orientation with dependancies is a killer. More independant systems, even some using analogue instead of digital may sound old school, but often
has a better success rate.

Or maybe they launched a dual combo one, and this is a decoy part that detached, while the real sat part is doing its secret stuff in a hidden orbit all painted black.
Im sure they can fake its orbit/failure to look like its 12tonnes even though it could be a 1tonne shell with 50lb thrusters.

Re:Bad design... was it made in china? haha (2, Informative)

got2liv4him (966133) | more than 6 years ago | (#22207156)

they did... and it failed. they have been able to communicate with the satelite, which keeps reporting that it tries to reboot and fails each time

Re:Bad design... was it made in china? haha (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22207326)

hey did... and it failed. they have been able to communicate with the satelite, which keeps reporting that it tries to reboot and fails each time
So, have NASA send up an astronaut to clear the BSOD and give it the three-finger salute [wikipedia.org] .

My Backyard (5, Funny)

acidradio (659704) | more than 6 years ago | (#22206152)

If it lands in my backyard, I get to keep it. Just like the neighbor kid's frisbees and baseballs! That's only fair, right?

Re:My Backyard (4, Funny)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 6 years ago | (#22206174)

If it lands in your back yard, you get to spend 10 or 15 years in guantanamo bay to make sure you don't talk.

Re:My Backyard (3, Funny)

rucs_hack (784150) | more than 6 years ago | (#22206518)

If it lands in your back yard, you get to spend 10 or 15 years in guantanamo bay to make sure you don't talk.

Nah, not unless they have a cell that's one milimeter high and fifty meters in radius, otherwise he wouldn't fit.

Re:My Backyard (1)

b100dian (771163) | more than 6 years ago | (#22206604)

Bruce Willis won't allow this.

Enough already (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22206838)

This 'joke' is so tired. Show me ONE EXAMPLE of someone held in Gitmo who WAS NOT an ununiformed combatant fighting our troops or implementing terror attacks.

There is plenty to bash the US for. Let's try to stick to facts instead of cheap mod point whoring with stupid jokes that have no basis in reality.

Thanks. Have a nice day.

Re:Enough already (4, Funny)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 6 years ago | (#22206850)

Show me ONE EXAMPLE of someone held in Gitmo who WAS NOT an ununiformed combatant fighting our troops or implementing terror attacks.

If he did, he'd probably get stuck into Gitmo for violating national security.

Re:Enough already (0, Offtopic)

stjobe (78285) | more than 6 years ago | (#22206992)

Show me ONE EXAMPLE of someone held in Gitmo who WAS NOT an ununiformed combatant fighting our troops or implementing terror attacks.
Well, I'll give you three:
From Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] : "In late January 2004, US officials released three children aged 13 to 15 and returned them to Afghanistan."
Now tell me these children were "ununiformed combatant fighting our troops or implementing terror attacks", you brain-washed moron.

To parahprase a poster from a previous story: "It makes one very upset to think that the army who liberated Buchenwald could implement Guantanamo".

Re:Enough already (Beware Al Queda Humorists) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22207170)

There was the editor of a parody magazine (The Pakistani version of The Onion [theonion.com] ) who was locked up at GitMo as a "terrorist" (His jokes weren't even very good). Check out the Habeus Schmabeus program from This American Life [thislife.org] for more interesting examples.

Well, it used to be in their archives. Does anyone have a copy? Just a sec I have to answer the door, someone's pounding on it with the but of an AR-15.

Re:Enough already (Beware Al Queda Humorists) (1)

An dochasac (591582) | more than 6 years ago | (#22207320)

Here is a link to the "Habeus Schmaebeus" podcast: http://podcast.thisamericanlife.org/special/310_bonus.mp3 [thisamericanlife.org] Listen to this and tell me you still believe all of the gitmo detainees are a threat to our country.

Re:Enough already (Beware Al Queda Humorists) (2, Informative)

An dochasac (591582) | more than 6 years ago | (#22207428)

From the 517 pentagon case files, only 5% were picked up on the by American troops on battlefield. Only 8% are classified by Pentagon as Al Queda fighters. Out of nearly 600 men at Gitmo, only about 1-2 dozen men could provide useful information. The vast majority of the detainees were handed over by Pakistan and a significant number were detained as part of a bounty program. Al Queda bounties were higher than Taliban, so suddenly turning in your neighbor became much more profitable if you told the U.S. he is "Al Queda."

Re:Enough already (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22207222)

I'm not trying to be pro-Guantanamo, but there is no linked source for that fact in the article. Blindly running with this information is tantamount to invading a country based on information that you know may be incorrect and misleading... and I doubt that's the image you're trying to convey.

Re:Enough already (1)

Hittite Creosote (535397) | more than 6 years ago | (#22207444)

Being under 16 does not stop you holding a gun, so a strict definition of only those out of military uniform who are taking shots at us could include children. Anyone think the Taliban would adhere to a strict 18+ rule on active service?

Not that that automatically makes it right to capture children used in this way, fly them halfway round the globe and detain them in Guantanamo Bay, of course.

Re:Enough already (1)

Mr2cents (323101) | more than 6 years ago | (#22207280)

Show me ONE EXAMPLE of someone held in Gitmo who WAS NOT an ununiformed combatant fighting our troops or implementing terror attacks.

This must be one of the most retarded posts I've ever read here. Really, what have you been doing these last years? Have you never read a newspaper?

Just to give you one link: http://www.talkleft.com/story/2006/01/17/822/22292 [talkleft.com]

Did you know about the 9 Chinese detainees at Guantanamo? They are Uighurs, Muslims from western China, who are now in their 5th year of imprisonment. The Bush Administration acknowledged in 2004 they had been imprisoned by mistake and should be released since they are not enemy combatants. But they are still there. And Bush won't let them go.
How did the USA get hold of all these prisoners? Are they people who surrendered in a fight? No, the army just put out a reward for turning in an "enemy combattant". So there are Afganistans who got rich by just taking unfortunate souls and selling them to the USA like slaves.

Now that I think of it, why am I even searching for examples? Let's just turn the question around: Can you give me ONE example of a Guantanamo prisoner who has been found guilty in court?

Really, what the USA is doing will remain a stain on its' reputation, it is despicable and shows once more what a banana replublic the country has become.

Re:My Backyard (4, Insightful)

evanbd (210358) | more than 6 years ago | (#22206186)

Yeah, have fun with the hydrazine.

Personally, I wouldn't want to keep anything that's flammable, explosive, toxic, corrosive, carcinogenic, mutagenic, and teratogenic. At least it's not radioactive...

Re:My Backyard (4, Funny)

Moonpie Madness (764217) | more than 6 years ago | (#22206206)

If this thing lands in unfriendly lands, whatever's left will fetch a lot of money... or be subject to US airstrike.

Maybe it will 'accidentally' land on Iran's nuke facility! I wish our peeps were that smart.

Re:My Backyard (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22206290)

I always find it odd that one country has a 'natural right' to have such weapons while another country is not allowed to have them.

IMHO, a nuclear Iran is not a problem. They know that if they use it they will have committed instant suicide. The Iranian government might be different compared to our Western ideas, but they're not that stupid.

I believe that the real danger is not in countries with nukes, but in small isolated cells of extremists with smaller, portable weapons of mass destruction. A group at which you cannot easily strike back with pre-programmed ICBM target locations.

But oh.. if Iran has a nuke, you cannot invade them that easily when the hunt for oil ramps up even further. The fact that Iran is also accepting the Euro as payment for oil is already frustrating enough for the U.S.. Switching to the Euro was also pretty much the last idea that Saddam had..

Dear Iranians, please forgive me for the analogy, but I think Iran is a bit like a relatively small but very loud barking dog. It knows it is not a super power, it can give a very good bite (huge military), but it's mostly concerned by making sure that the other dogs which are looking at its food (oil) stay at a distance. Having a nuke is like being backed up by your owner who's carrying a shotgun.

Oh and contrary to the feeling that you might get from most large news channels, Iran is not some stupid country with desert-dwelling fanatics:

TEHERAN - Mega Capital of IRAN - photos of Tehran on Worldisround
http://www.worldisround.com/articles/98910/index.html [worldisround.com]

Warning: LARGE PAGE. My apologies to the server owner..

Yes, there is behaviour and there are rules in that country which we consider old fashioned, but this is mostly in the country side.

How many of you did know that there are more women than men going to university there!?!?

Re:My Backyard (-1, Flamebait)

Moonpie Madness (764217) | more than 6 years ago | (#22206428)

Don't find it odd!

Iran isn't a legitimate state. They have no right to exist, own property, have a military, etc. Because they are a bigoted evil theocracy.

The USA and Israel aren't perfect, but they are basically democratic and are fundamentally more legitimate nations than most of the middle east.

Iran has repeatedly said it will commit genocide. If you visit Iran, you will hear daily chants "maag baag Israel" calling for the destruction of those people. And it's not because of palestine (though it wouldn't be ok if it were), it's because of racism. I know this personally. That also places them in a certain category.

Also, you're probably wrong about the university stat. Saddam killed a huge number of the men in Iran (Saddam killed more muslims than any other person in the history of the world), and that affected the numbers somewhat, but statistics out of Iran are always lies. Even if they say what the Iranians want them to, they will lie about it. So yeah, they report that 70% of students are women. It's not true though. Hell if anyone knows the real figures.

If your state is not a legitimate democracy, it has no right to exist. We can't destroy every such nation for obvious reasons, but we can fuck with them however we feel we need to. Why? Why not?

Re:My Backyard (1)

marcello_dl (667940) | more than 6 years ago | (#22206530)

Bin laden - CIA ties ex allied.
Saddam - CIA ties. ex allied.
Achmadinejad - won elections thanks to the peculiar behavior of pro-occidental electors that boycotted the moderate candidates because they weren't modern enough.

Do you see a pattern there? If there is one it doesn't play well with your view of "we are simply getting rid of the baddies (only those whose interests bother us, as ruanda was left conveniently alone)"

Re:My Backyard (0, Flamebait)

Moonpie Madness (764217) | more than 6 years ago | (#22206584)

I agree. Our problems with Iran are predicated on our tampering with their elections in the 50s and 60s.

When Iran had legitimate elections, the US had no right to interfere, and it has bitten us on the ass. AHmenidijad had never won and would never win a legitimate election. Iran today is not a legitimate state, and the US has a responsibility to protect the world from Iran partly because Iran's screw up stemmed from the cold war efforts we made.

However, Saddam's US links are kinda tenuous. He was definitely a Russian ally more than a US ally. we aided him in an effort to damage Iran (which committed an act of war against us), but you're right, Saddam is despicable and we should not have helped him in any way.

Osama, too, was meant to fight the Russians. Even 9/11 was worth winning the cold war, since the Soviets killed millions of innocent people.

But we had an obligation to take care of Osama when it became clear our mistake was a great threat, and we failed. Our leaders deserve blame.

Fixed that for you (1, Interesting)

copponex (13876) | more than 6 years ago | (#22206532)

Don't find it odd!

America isn't a legitimate state... exit polling suggests the last two elections were rigged. They have no right to exist, own property, have a military, etc. Because they are a bigoted evil colonial power.

America has repeatedly said it will take no options off the table. If you visit America, you will hear people on the radio talk about turning the middle east into a piece of glass, etc. And it's not actually to protect themselves against terrorism (though it wouldn't be okay if it were), they are continuing a hundred year old policy of establishing a military presence around oil resources. This places them in the same category as Rome or the British Empire.

Also, you're wrong about the civilian deaths. America has killed more foreign civilians than any other outside country in history, perhaps with the exception of Nazi Germany. They claim the numbers in Iraq are low this time, but statistics out of America are always lies. Even if they say what the Americans want them to, they will still lie about it. Notice how they don't officially "keep track" of civilian deaths. Hell if anyone knows the real figures.

If your state is not a legitimate member of the international community, it has no right to exist. We can't destroy every such nation for obvious reasons, but we can fuck with them however we feel we need to. Why? Why not?

Sincerely,
Wen Jiabao
Premier of the People's Republic of China

Re:Fixed that for you (1)

Moonpie Madness (764217) | more than 6 years ago | (#22206606)

Fair enough... if you truly believe that America is fundamentally illegitimate. I don't. Especially in reference to China.

Obviously my opinions are opinions and you are not especially clever to point that out.

Re:Fixed that for you (1)

Skater (41976) | more than 6 years ago | (#22206886)

...exit polling suggests the last two elections were rigged.
As someone who works in a survey organization as a statistician, please let me explain that there is no guarantee any poll/survey comes up with the true answer. Perhaps people that voted for a candidate didn't want to admit it for some reason. Perhaps people just said anything to get away from the pollsters. Or perhaps the sampling was messed up. Or perhaps the pollsters had their own agenda.

Re:Fixed that for you (1)

Megane (129182) | more than 6 years ago | (#22207134)

Or the last two elections suggest that exit polling was rigged. For instance, the exit pollers could have primarily been polling during times of the day when Democrat voters were more likely to be voting.

Re:My Backyard (5, Insightful)

calculadoru (760076) | more than 6 years ago | (#22206540)

If your state is not a legitimate democracy, it has no right to exist

Odd reasoning there. I can think of quite a few countries that are most definitely not legitimate democracies - China (who basically bankrolls the US thus ensuring it is free to oppress its population), North Korea (who pokes its nose at the US every other week, to no reaction whatsoever, while murdering its own citizens), Burma (saw all those dead monks? did the US government do anything about it?), Russia (and each day under Putin makes it worse, but the US president has 'seen into his soul', so that makes it alright), most of the former USSR republics in Central Asia, along with pretty much most of Africa, plus whatever I forget now (it's snowing and I'm having a warm cup of sake). Yes, Iran is a theocracy, and an evil one too - your point is? How do you decide who to fuck with, and in what order?
Please don't say oil.

Re:My Backyard (1)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 6 years ago | (#22207172)

North Korea (who pokes its nose at the US every other week, to no reaction whatsoever

This is the only example you cite where I believe we're doing exactly what we should be doing. We have three choices with NK - diplomacy, attack, or silent treatment. We don't have the resources to attack them while overcommitted elsewhere, and they haven't quite done enough to draw us in. We could have talks - but there are two problems with that. First, Clinton went down that road and they promptly broke every agreement signed. What reason do we have to believe they'll honor those agreements this time? Second, and most importantly - attention is what Kim wants. He wants the affirmation that unilateral talks with the US would bring, which will just feed his ego, which is a bad thing. So, like a naughty two year old, you show him that good behavior will get him more rewards than bad. I think he may slowly come around to see this.

Re:My Backyard (0)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 6 years ago | (#22206644)

Israel is committing genocide, and has violated more UN resolutions than any other nation, since the establishment of the General Assembly.

It also denies full citizenship rights to some, based on ethnicity - despite being indigenous to the region.

It was created through acts of terror against the UK.

But. I bet you learned all that in your summer camp.

Re:My Backyard (1)

ttapper04 (955370) | more than 6 years ago | (#22206716)

What you say about Iranian stats reminds me of the "Ministry of Truth" in 1984. Such manipulation of numbers seems to be a natural consequence when government has the means to do so.

Re:My Backyard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22207354)

Iran isn't a legitimate state.If your state is not a legitimate democracy, it has no right to exist.

1) The US of A is a Constitutional Republic. Is that OK with you?
2) How does the Shaw of Iran and how he came to power fit into your enlighten worldview?

Re:My Backyard (1)

Xaositecte (897197) | more than 6 years ago | (#22206550)

Where, exactly, do you believe insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan are getting arms from?

How long do you think it will take from the time Iran develops nuclear weapons to the time they end up in the hands of extremists?

Re:My Backyard (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 6 years ago | (#22206522)

Smart enough to go back to the good old days of a cold war so the war profiteers can get rich with little risk of a real war? Those days are long gone, won't be back and they were only good for some. It would be a real shooting war with millions dead and a lot of limbless veterans and widows in your home town even if it is fairly one sided. Add to that the disturbing new trend of a lot of new junkies in your home town to finance the insurgents - even the ultra-fundamentalist Taliban are happy to sell heroin to buy weapons now.

A war with Iran for temporary profit is a very short sighted idea and now that Rumsfeld is gone it is unlikely to happen.

Re:My Backyard (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 6 years ago | (#22207468)

Add to that the disturbing new trend of a lot of new junkies in your home town to finance the insurgents - even the ultra-fundamentalist Taliban are happy to sell heroin to buy weapons now.

Sounds like a good reason to legalize drugs and take over the production of them ourselves, doesn't it? You don't hear about the Taliban financing their operations with booze or tobacco do you?

What nuke facility? (1)

YeeHaW_Jelte (451855) | more than 6 years ago | (#22206602)

"Maybe it will 'accidentally' land on Iran's nuke facility! I wish our peeps were that smart."

I sure don't hope so, because they don't have any ... your CIA themselves said they stopped developing it in 2003.

But we can't let facts stand in the way of a good war, can we?

Re:My Backyard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22207350)

They will just send in a few untrained SEALS just like G. I. Jane

Re:My Backyard (2, Funny)

acidradio (659704) | more than 6 years ago | (#22206214)

On a day like today, all of those things sound kinda fun!

Re:My Backyard (1)

Arimus (198136) | more than 6 years ago | (#22206418)

flammable? do you have a petrol powered car or lawnmower?

explosive? see above. Do you use fertiliser? Keep diesel around? then don't mix the two?

toxic? bleach used in the house? any insect/pest control poisons?

corrosive? Most household cleaners...

carcinogenic? do you smoke or ever sit near people who are? sit in traffic jams in your tinbox breathing the exhaust of the truck in front?

Mutagenic? I'm sure if I could be bothered I'd find some household chemicals which when used incorrectly or mixed could tick this box ;)

Teratogenic? Some normal medicines, household chemicals again...

Sadly we're surrounded by this crap all the time

Re:My Backyard (1)

AndGodSed (968378) | more than 6 years ago | (#22206654)

THATS IT. I am moving to a tent in a trailer park... somewhere...

Re:My Backyard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22206680)

If there's any hydrazine yet it's definitely worth investigating so see what "secret technology" has allowed it to survive re-entry.

Re:My Backyard (1)

pathos49 (838882) | more than 6 years ago | (#22207502)

Hydrazine is not all that stable in aerobic conditions. In polluted air the life time will unlikely exceed 1 h. If it hits the ground and was unfortunate to not have the container with hydrazine rupture during reentry, then assuming the soils has trace metals, hydrazine shuld rapidly decompose. Dumping organic loam shuld afford you all the protection you shoul need

Re: (Not in) My Backyard (5, Informative)

Zymergy (803632) | more than 6 years ago | (#22206278)

I would hope that it does not contain an RTG or other nuclear components... but RTG's are said to be able to survive reentry... ,Ahem! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radioisotope_thermoelectric_generator [wikipedia.org]
Recall that some of our older satellites had Polonium 210 coatings applied to some surfaces which could not be allowed to become frozen (batteries, etc.) in the deep cold of space (including parts of our Apollo Lunar Rover if my memory serves). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polonium [wikipedia.org]

Wait a minute!!!, Wasn't this the secondary plot to G.I. Jane?

Re: (Not in) My Backyard (1)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 6 years ago | (#22206536)

RTGs? That's puny!

Russian radar satellites had the whole _nuclear_ _reactors_ (one of them crashed somewhere in Canada)!

See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RORSAT [wikipedia.org]

Re: (Not in) My Backyard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22206554)

Well :
1) Well, it most likely doesnt have any RTGs, because they are expensive and not very powerfull when compared to solar arrays in earth orbit.
2) Possible hazards - hydrazine propelant. But the tanks will most probably burst during reentry, fracturing the sat so it will burn up even more evenly.
Momentum wheels - well, just a solid metal wheel falling at 200 km/h :) There can be 4 of those :)
3) The sat has been dead from launch in 2006, and because it is in LEO, it just must come down soon or later, no surprise here.
4) Its 4-5 tons max, you dont put much more on the Delta II on which it was launched.
5) For accurate info: http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/forums/thread-view.asp?tid=11627&start=1 [nasaspaceflight.com]

Re: (Not in) My Backyard (3, Informative)

Zoxed (676559) | more than 6 years ago | (#22206580)

> I would hope that it does not contain an RTG or other nuclear components.

This was the first thing I thought of when I read the same story at BBC News [bbc.co.uk] . But that article says the fuel is hydrazine.

(But as the source was anonymous, and the satellite is US Military, that leak could just be a PR move !!)

Re: (Not in) My Backyard (5, Informative)

icebrain (944107) | more than 6 years ago | (#22206676)

I really doubt you'll see any RTGs on an earth-orbit satellite. It's a lot cheaper and easier just to use solar panels; RTGs are reserved for deep space missions or other things where solar panels lose effectiveness due to distance (Jupiter/Saturn adn beyond), dust (MSL rover), or extended shadow (moon surface experiments).

Re: (Not in) My Backyard (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 6 years ago | (#22206820)

I really doubt you'll see any RTGs on an earth-orbit satellite.



Probably not an RTG, but you may well see a real nuclear reactor on earth-orbit satellites. IIRC the Soviet Union had some satellites that were powered this way, and I'd be surprised if the US didn't.

Re: (Not in) My Backyard (1)

icebrain (944107) | more than 6 years ago | (#22207246)

Well, a quick google search shows that the US launched one reactor-powered satellite in 1965; the reactor failed relatively quickly and the satellite was boosted into a higher "disposal" orbit. There were apparently plans to launch an experiemental reactor in the shuttle's payload bay, in support of the SDI program; this was scrapped after Challenger.

The Soviet Union launched several reactor-powered satellites; it seems that most (if not all) of them were RORSATs (Radar Ocean Reconnaissance SATellites). I believe their primary function was finding US carrier battlegroups and supply convoys, with the intent of directing attack submarines and long-range bombers. I'd imagine they used reactors because they could supply more power. I also seem to remember reading that solar panels are pretty vulnerable to EMP effects in orbit; maybe a reactor is less so?

Re: (Not in) My Backyard (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 6 years ago | (#22207548)

Well, a quick google search shows that the US launched one reactor-powered satellite in 1965;



Do quick google searches also turn up data on all the classified sats up there ? The reason why the Soviet nuclear-powered sats are common knowledge is because one of them ended coming down in the wrong place ...

Re: (Not in) My Backyard (1)

robot_love (1089921) | more than 6 years ago | (#22206718)

Don't worry, mate. No one was ever killed with Polonium.

What, no "+1 Ironic"?

Re:My Backyard (1)

nollaigoc (712343) | more than 6 years ago | (#22206436)

If it lands in your backyard, you will have a building site.

Re:My Backyard (1)

so sue mee (660717) | more than 6 years ago | (#22206514)

You get to keep the glowing crater too.

Re:My Backyard (1)

craagz (965952) | more than 6 years ago | (#22206524)

If it lands in your backyard, you will have to find a new house!!

got even more classified... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22206752)

No, it is not going to land on anyones yard. In fact, it has not failed at all.
It is not a bug, it's a feature!
The disappearance of this classified satellite is planned second stage classification, that's all.
Move on, nothing to see here.

It bumped into the Mother ship (1)

itsybitsy (149808) | more than 6 years ago | (#22206164)

from ID4 - the invasion begins in a few hours.

Only one man would use the strawberry... (1)

kcbanner (929309) | more than 6 years ago | (#22206180)

The RADAR has been jammed! Only on man would dare use the strawberry...

Re:Only one man would use the strawberry... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22206238)

Strawberry? STRAWBERRY?

It's raspberry for ***** sake!

Your Nerd License is hereby revoked (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22206294)

It is "Only one man would dare give me the Raspberry", not "Only on man would dare use the strawberry..."

Re:Your Nerd License is hereby revoked (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 6 years ago | (#22207458)

What's even worse is that anyone who doesn't remember that it was raspberry clearly didn't get half the joke (half was visual, half was the pun).

Re:Only one man would use the strawberry... (1)

ledow (319597) | more than 6 years ago | (#22206332)

Call me back when we lose the bleeps, the sweeps and the creeps.

Re:Only one man would use the strawberry... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22206392)

I'm surrounded by assholes.

Re:Only one man would use the strawberry... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22206770)

Yeah. I feel like that at your house, too.

The Chinese Can Handle It (4, Interesting)

frankenheinz (976104) | more than 6 years ago | (#22206240)

Can't the Chinese just shoot it down for us? http://www.cnn.com/2007/TECH/space/01/18/china.missile/index.html [cnn.com]

Re:The Chinese Can Handle It (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 6 years ago | (#22206334)

It took more than 6 times for them to do it, so not likely. Of course, I suspect that the will be trying to do just that. Or we could see the shuttle try to recover it after setting up the ISS. The reality is that sats like this do not use solar cells. They are designed to not reflect light to hide in the blackness of space. This will have uranium onboard. So, we are going to see something done to bring it down nicely (or send it away).

Re:The Chinese Can Handle It (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 6 years ago | (#22206856)

It's visible as a bright spot in the sky to the naked eye, as are many such Satellites. Most conjecture is that it DID have Solar Panels that failed to deploy. It's not a stealth satellite; it's a huge camera.

Will it burn up? (4, Interesting)

hax0r_this (1073148) | more than 6 years ago | (#22206306)

I've always thought that things coming down from space have a tendency to burn up in the atmosphere, but on the other hand chunks of that space shuttle landed all over the place. Can someone who knows what they're talking about enlighten me as to how much of this satellite is likely to survive?

Which brings me to something else: do these satellites have some sort of self destruct mechanism? What was to stop, say, the Soviets or Chinese from going up and physically stealing a very expensive satellite that presumably contains technology/information we don't want them getting their hands on?

Re:Will it burn up? (1)

RuBLed (995686) | more than 6 years ago | (#22206356)

It will burn up definitely and the debris could be much less than the space shuttle columbia. It only measures around 13 meters, less than a fourth of the shuttle so I guess if it breaks up in several pieces, we could just see debris the size of a couch or something...

Re:Will it burn up? (4, Informative)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 6 years ago | (#22206396)

I've always thought that things coming down from space have a tendency to burn up in the atmosphere, but on the other hand chunks of that space shuttle landed all over the place. Can someone who knows what they're talking about enlighten me as to how much of this satellite is likely to survive?

Most of it will burn up on reentry. Depending on how large it is and the materials used, there will probably be many small pieces of debris reaching the ground across hundreds of miles.

Which brings me to something else: do these satellites have some sort of self destruct mechanism? What was to stop, say, the Soviets or Chinese from going up and physically stealing a very expensive satellite that presumably contains technology/information we don't want them getting their hands on?

The same thing that stops them from say seizing a US ship somewhere on the ocean and ripping out its radar and other technology. Its piracy and it would invite if not all out war then at least some sort of major retaliation by the US.

Re:Will it burn up? (1)

Sique (173459) | more than 6 years ago | (#22206430)

You mean, they just do it and tell no one? And the CIA, which knows about this, keeps its mouth shut because otherwise the Chinese would reveal more domestic spying programs?

Re:Will it burn up? (1)

ch-chuck (9622) | more than 6 years ago | (#22206878)

Its piracy and it would invite if not all out war then at least some sort of major retaliation by the US.

Sounds like the plot to James Bond 'You Only Live Twice' (which looks like the big inspiration for Austin Powers, except no mini-me). Anyway, the Dr. Evil character is capturing both American and Soviet space missions in order to trigger a war for ... some reason.

Re:Will it self-destruct? (1)

secretwhistle (1116881) | more than 6 years ago | (#22206420)

Which brings me to something else: do these satellites have some sort of self destruct mechanism?

I believe it's 1A 2B 3C.

Re:Will it self-destruct? (1)

sticks_us (150624) | more than 6 years ago | (#22206700)

That's the stupidest combination I've ever heard in my life! The kind of thing an idiot would have on his luggage!

Re:Will it burn up? (1)

Dan541 (1032000) | more than 6 years ago | (#22206450)

It should burn-up The shuttle only made it back in because it is heat shielded and brokeup after it got thru the atmosphere.

Physical theft of a satalite wouldent be very discreate and would probably cost more than the satalite is worth.

Re:Will it burn up? (2, Informative)

nacturation (646836) | more than 6 years ago | (#22206618)

I've always thought that things coming down from space have a tendency to burn up in the atmosphere, but on the other hand chunks of that space shuttle landed all over the place.
The atmosphere isn't a lightsaber that will completely destroy everything that touches it. For a fast-moving object, it's more like a welding torch that tries to burn away as much as it can. If the object is large enough, not all of it will burn up before the object is slowed to the point where it no longer generates enough friction to burn.
 

Re:Will it burn up? (5, Funny)

jaminJay (1198469) | more than 6 years ago | (#22207368)

More importantly, will it blend?

tinfoil will save us all! (0, Offtopic)

wwmedia (950346) | more than 6 years ago | (#22206330)

lol, i always knew my trusty tinfoil hat [wikipedia.org] will come in handy someday

Re:tinfoil will save us all! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22206698)

lol, i always knew my trusty tinfoil hat [wikipedia.org] will come in handy someday
Thanks for the link to tinfoil hat. I know I was wondering what exactly a tinfoil hat is -- so I'm sure many other people were wondering as well.

This is why I really like /. -- helpful people willing to teach me new things, leading me along in the quest for knowledge [wikipedia.org] .

Re:tinfoil will save us all! (1)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 6 years ago | (#22207058)

is aluminum foil as good as tin foil for making hats?

oh no!! (5, Funny)

Runagate Rampant (602123) | more than 6 years ago | (#22206342)

A communications disruption could mean only one thing: invasion

Zapp (1)

jaminJay (1198469) | more than 6 years ago | (#22206426)

You win again, Gravity!

Re:Zapp (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 6 years ago | (#22206534)

Gravity: not just a good idea, it's the law!

Where's China when you need them... (1)

thepacketmaster (574632) | more than 6 years ago | (#22206546)

A quick blast with the anti-satellite [slashdot.org] weapon from China and we'd all be saved! :)

The probability of landing of it (1)

WetCat (558132) | more than 6 years ago | (#22206564)

In Russian book
by P. Makovetski this problem has been throughly discussed:
http://n-t.ru/ri/mk/sk030.htm [n-t.ru]
(Automatic Google English translationhttp://translate.google.com/translate?u=http%3A%2F%2Fn-t.ru%2Fri%2Fmk%2Fsk030.htm&langpair=ru%7Cen&hl=ru&ie=UTF-8 [google.com] )
The short result is that this satellite has a 5 times more likely to land in Antarctica than in Africa.

Go firecracker go! (1)

miffo.swe (547642) | more than 6 years ago | (#22206678)

Maybe if the US had a reliable space vehicle they could go out and save it fast. Thats what you get for developing a spacecraft based on looks and coolness factor instead of using reliable stuff like Saturn V or other rocket types.

Intelligent Speculation? (2, Funny)

ideonode (163753) | more than 6 years ago | (#22206734)

Intelligent speculation has led one knowledgeable observer....

But I thought that god did not play dice...

Define success? (0)

MosesJones (55544) | more than 6 years ago | (#22206808)

Launched "successfully" only 12 months ago and now its going to crash in a burning mess.

The folks over there in "intelligence" sure have a low threshold for what success means. This must be from the same school of accuracy that brought us "Saddam has WMDs".

Worst scenario here is it hitting Iran... like anyone will believe its an accident.

Re:Define success? (1)

gtall (79522) | more than 6 years ago | (#22207048)

I think you mean engineering, not 'intelligence'. The intelligence people only specced what the capabilities were. The rest was built by some company, and the launch by NASA or U.S. Air Force. Either the engineering was faulty or the execution in building and launching.

Gerry

The lauch certainly was successful. (1)

Jesus_666 (702802) | more than 6 years ago | (#22207136)

The launch went over well. Deployment didn't. This scenario should be familiar to anyone using Microsoft Windows. (SCNR)

But hey, the rocket didn't explode or something. Certainly a successful launch.

tu24 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22207264)

No-one else thinking this could be something to do with the electrical interference caused by tu24 in the earth's magnetosphere this week? :>
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