NOTAM indicates possible date for satellite shootdown. Remember Skylab, anyone? — UPDATE: It worked.


via Slashdot:

“Amateur satellite watcher Ted Molczan notes that a “Notice to Airmen” (NOTAM) has been issued announcing restricted airspace for February 21, between 02:30 and 05:00 UTC, in a region near Hawaii. Stricken satellite USA 193, which the US has announced plans to shoot down, will pass over this area at about 03:30. Interestingly, this is during the totality of Wednesday’s lunar eclipse, which may or may not make debris easier to observe.”

** Memo to the bloke with his finger on the trigger, from a concerned West Australian: Please, be careful this time; we’re still getting over that whole Skylab thing.

balladonia_skylab_03.jpg

For some Skylab nostalgia, see the June 23, 1979 issue of Time Magazine, Skylab’s Spectacular Death.

And if you’re planning on hosting a Falling Satellite Party (dress code: hard hats), add this song to your playlist: “The Ballad of a Balladonia Night” – a cheerful song to commemorate the fall of Skylab by the famous Australian Christian singing group Family.

UPDATE: Another worried blogger wonders, “Will a Spy Satellite Fall on My Head? Will My Insurance Policy Cover This?” I suggest he ask the good people of the Balladonia, Kalgoorlie and Esperance.

balladonia_skylab_05.jpg
* * *

4_64_satellite_military.jpgUPDATE: 21 February — It worked.

WASHINGTON — A missile launched from a Navy ship successfully struck a dying U.S. spy satellite passing 130 miles over the Pacific on Wednesday, a defense official said.

It happened just after 10:30 p.m. EST.

The USS Lake Erie, armed with an SM-3 missile designed to knock down incoming missiles — not orbiting satellites — launched the attack at 10:26 p.m. EST, according to the Pentagon. It hit the satellite as the spacecraft traveled at more than 17,000 mph.

Because the satellite was orbiting at a relatively low altitude at the time it was hit by the missile, debris will begin to re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere immediately, the Pentagon statement said.

“Nearly all of the debris will burn up on re-entry within 24-48 hours and the remaining debris should re-enter within 40 days,” it said.

The use of the Navy missile amounted to an unprecedented use of components of the Pentagon’s missile defense system, designed to shoot down hostile ballistic missiles in flight — not kill satellites.

The operation was so extraordinary, with such intense international publicity and political ramifications, that Defense Secretary Robert Gates — not a military commander — was to make the final decision to pull the trigger.

The government organized hazardous materials teams, under the code name “Burnt Frost,” to be flown to the site of any dangerous or otherwise sensitive debris that might land in the United States or elsewhere.

• Click here to visit FOXNews.com’s Space Center.

UPDATE #3:  Western Australia Premier Alan Carpenter tells us the satellite’s demise is a “genuine issue” for the state.

17 Responses to “NOTAM indicates possible date for satellite shootdown. Remember Skylab, anyone? — UPDATE: It worked.”

  1. TimH Says:

    Spot, where I work, we have the original NASA tracking radar trailer that tracked Skylab into WA, it was originally sent over from Greenbelt, Maryland to monitor the descent. NASA decided to leave it here as it was going to be too costly to ship it back to the States. It is now in mothballs, but I looked inside it a while ago and the original pencil written diaries of the descent are still there. I shall take some photo’s tomorrow and try to post them.

  2. spot_the_dog Says:

    Oh, that would be great, Tim!!! Way back when, in NC, I was a “junior rocket boy,” and I have been a space nut ever since.

    Anyway, post some links to your pics and I’ll update the post.

  3. TimH Says:

    Thanks spot, I will. Well I was never a “junior rocket boy” but I have been a space nut since I was a kid. I’ll do my best to post links to the pics.

  4. spot_the_dog Says:

    If you can’t post them, email to to spot_the_dog (at) nyms (dot) net and I’ll put them up. I’d really be interested in seeing them. Ah, yes, almost every boy I knew was a space nut back then. When I think of how much we learned on our own re. maths and science, and how we pressed every adult in town with a bit of that knowledge in those areas into service, it surely makes me nostalgic.

  5. TimH Says:

    If I can’t post them I will email them to you spot. If you’d like, I would be very happy to show you the real thing as I know we are in the same town. Space stuff back then was new and exciting, first man on the moon stuff.I was lucky enough to watch a satellite launch from Cape Canaveral in 2003, that fulfilled a life long dream, very exciting for me.

  6. Angus Dei Says:

    I’m glad you picked up this topic Spot, as while following this story I remembered the Skylab falling in WA and read up on it a bit. Awesome debris pics!

    Estes rockets were a right of passage when I was a kid. I remember sending one particularly ambitious project up from my parents suburban back yard – I really had no business doing that, as it was probably good for a couple thousand feet – and the parachute failed to open. I still have no idea where it landed, but I assume nobody was injured. LOL!

  7. Rebecca H Says:

    I bought my younger grandsons Estes rockets for Christmas this year. No idea if they’ve sent them up yet (with strict instructions to have Dad standing nearby). I try everything I can to get the kids interested in space exploration, with absolutely no encouragement from their schools.

  8. Angus Dei Says:

    Excellent!

    I’m envisioning the Russian, Chinese, and North Korean “leaders” shitting their britches right about now… which is great, of course.

  9. spot_the_dog Says:

    #8, I think the fact that (a) “The use of the Navy missile amounted to an unprecedented use of components of the Pentagon’s missile defense system, designed to shoot down hostile ballistic missiles in flight — not kill satellites” and (b) “The operation was so extraordinary, with such intense international publicity and political ramifications, that Defense Secretary Robert Gates — not a military commander — was to make the final decision to pull the trigger” were meant to send a not-so-subtle message to our “friends” out there. 😉

  10. Angus Dei Says:

    Agreed and indeed.

  11. saltydog Says:

    Bwahahahahaha! Vlad wants to start an arms race with us? Bring it on you murdering Stalin wannabe.

    I’m so proud of our guys. Well done!

  12. spot_the_dog Says:

    Jon Ham had a brief but apt post on the success of this mission:


    American technology, can’t beat it.

    Direct hit on the spy satellite over the Pacific. Gee, whatever happened to the Dems and peaceniks who said years ago this was an impossible pipe dream. As usual, Reagan was right all along.

    And, predictably, no thanks will be given for Bush and Company possibly saving lives and sparing us environmental complications.

    No worries, no doubt the lefties are off in some dark corner of teh interwebs working on a negative spin for all this and we’ll be hearing from them soon.

  13. Jim T Says:

    Cool post! You actually live where Skylab fell? I always heard it fell in the “outback” of Australia, didn’t know people lived there.

    At tleast it doesn’t look like _this_ satellite will be bothering anyone – BAM, up it went. Like the guy above says – “American Technology, can’t beat it.”

  14. spot_the_dog Says:

    #13 Hi, JimT. Yes, people do live here in Western Australia – about 2 million of us? It’s true that there is a lot of nothing here, and only about 2 people per square mile though. And still, Skylab managed to find population centres to fall on! “American Technology, can’t beat it.” LOL, just kidding!!!

    Now if bits of that satellite they just shot down start raining on us though, we’re going to maybe start thinking that it’s a little more than just a coincidence and that you all have some kind of grudge against us!

  15. Pieces of Skylab « Tizona’s Weblog Says:

    […] by spot_the_dog on February 27, 2008 Thanks to the drama of the American military recently shooting down a spy satellite to keep it from landing on an unsuspecting town somewhere, the Skylab “incident” of […]

  16. politisite Says:

    Thanks for the link. The spy satellite missed me here in Columbia, South Carolina, USA. I see skylab parts on the roof. Great catch

    Albert N. Milliron, Politisite

  17. Mary Blahitka Says:

    I am a Weather Observer working @ Burwash Airport Yukon (CYDB) Whilst checking the Runway (with an employee) on March 25/08 at 06:48 Pacific Daylight Savings time (1348Z) 100 miles or greater WNW Burwash Airport Yukon – we observed what we thought at first was a meteorite entering..it seemed to slow and appeared to be bits of metal tearing apart and burning up – the light was greenish yellow – and it took about 4 seconds to disappear..

    I reported this sighting to Whitehorse Flight Services, Nav Canada (no further directions received) and was wondering if there is an official site in Canada – that is recording this information – and who is cleaning up the mess? I was told to report it to NASA (which I did) – but have never received a reply to date (02 Aug 2009!!).

    I thought that this may be part of the satellite that was recently (Feb 08) shot down by the US… terrible .. this littering!


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