Q: When is a satellite like a whale?

A: When you use explosives to get rid of a dead one!

Last week’s story of how the U.S. military shot down a satellite carrying toxic rocket fuel brought at least a couple comparisons to Oregon’s Exploding Whale. The military had lost control of the crippled satellite in late 2006 shortly after it was launched. The bus-sized hulk was finally threatening to fall out of orbit, and people’s lives were at stake should the fuel tank, or any amount of the one thousand pounds of unused hydrazine rocket fuel it contains, return to Earth. In order to minimize the amount of material that might be left in space, the government waited until just before the satellite was ready to fall out of orbit before conducting its operation. The goal was to blast the satellite into as many small pieces as possible, and to have those smaller pieces burn up as they entered the Earth’s atmosphere.

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? At least they weren’t expecting sea birds to eat up all the small pieces!

Anyway, Bob Welch made a passing comment about it on his blog. And then there was a nice little piece by Marlene Lang in Chicago’s Southtown Star. Here’s an excerpt of a few key passages:

[Most] of the satellite debris burned up as it re-entered the earth’s atmosphere…. Other debris will reportedly re-enter the atmosphere during the next 40 days…. It’s not likely to rain down on us like splatters of whale flesh. In fact, it’s unlikely to hit anyone at all…. [The] planet is covered with a lot of water, and people don’t live on the oceans’ surface. I just hope the debris doesn’t hit any whales.

You can read both articles at the following links:

Leave a Reply

Are you posting spam?   yes  no