Feeds

US military prepares for plummeting spy satellite

Military opt to act...now that crash is imminent over US soil

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

The US military is putting into effect contingency plans to deal with the possibility that a large spy satellite expected to fall to Earth in late February or early March could actually hit North America.

Exactly what these contingency plans consist of is not clear at this stage - we thought perhaps a giant baseball mitt. But one thing's for sure, the race will be on to salvage the splatted spy sat. Air Force General Gene Renuart, who heads US Northern Command, told the Associated Press a number of pieces will not burn up as the orbiting vehicle re-enters the Earth's atmosphere and will instead hit the ground.

"We know there is at least some percentage that it could land on ground as opposed to in the water."

Renuart added that, "...it looks like it might re-enter into the North American area." The US military along with the Homeland Security Department and the Federal Emergency Management Agency will either have to deal with the impact or assist Canadian or Mexican authorities - depending exactly where it lands of course.

"Armageddon" image courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures/Touchstone Pictures

Armagedden-outta-here: journalist's impression of how the re-entry might look

Experts at Global Security , a defense research group, say a crash could put the secrets of the satellite at risk.

"One concern the intelligence community is going to have is that parts of this satellite will fall into the hands of the Russians or Chinese or somebody else," says Global Security director John Pike.

According to Pike, the satellite carries a new generation of spy equipment, able to provide round-the-clock intelligence.

"The hopes were that this was going to be a more capable, less expensive spy satellite or radar satellite that could see objects through clouds and in the dark."

Satellite Watchers, a worldwide network of hobbyists who track satellites for recreation, have been plotting the gradual degradation of the spy satellite's orbit for about year. They estimate it is now at an altitude of approximately 173 miles, and dropping about 1,640 feet a day. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
GRAV WAVE DRAMA: 'Big Bang echo' may have been grit on the scanner – boffins
Exit Planet Dust on faster-than-light expansion of universe
Mine Bitcoins with PENCIL and PAPER
Forget Sudoku, crunch SHA-256 algos
SpaceX Dragon cargo truck flies 3D printer to ISS: Clawdown in 3, 2...
Craft berths at space station with supplies, experiments, toys
'This BITE MARK is a SMOKING GUN': Boffins probe ancient assault
Tooth embedded in thigh bone may tell who pulled the trigger
DOLPHINS SMELL MAGNETS – did we hear that right, boffins?
Xavier's School for Gifted Magnetotaceans
Big dinosaur wowed females with its ENORMOUS HOOTER
That's right, Doris, I've got biggest snout in the prehistoric world
Japanese volcano eruption reportedly leaves 31 people presumed dead
Hopes fade of finding survivors on Mount Ontake
That glass of water you just drank? It was OLDER than the SUN
One MEELLION years older. Some of it anyway
Canberra drone team dances a samba in Outback Challenge
CSIRO's 'missing bushwalker' found and watered
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.