Feeds

US military prepares for plummeting spy satellite

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

Bridging the IT gap between rising business demands and ageing tools

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. ®

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol
Study finds common pain-killer doesn't reduce pain or shorten recovery
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 claimed lives of HIV/AIDS cure scientists
Researchers, advocates, health workers among those on shot-down plane
World Solar Challenge contender claims new speed record
One charge sees Sunswift travel 500kms at over 100 km/h
Mwa-ha-ha-ha! Eccentric billionaire Musk gets his PRIVATE SPACEPORT
In the Lone Star State, perhaps appropriately enough
SMELL YOU LATER, LOSERS – Dumbo tells rats, dogs... humans
Junk in the trunk? That's what people have
All those new '5G standards'? Here's the science they rely on
Radio professor tells us how wireless will get faster in the real world
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.