Sunday, January 27, 2008

Secret U.S. satellite to make uncontrolled reentry - what do we know?

Not much at the moment: The satellite in question is probably an experimental reconnaissance satellite known as NROL-21 which was launched in Dec. 2006 and ran into trouble only a month later. Now it is predicted to reenter one month from now - but since the satellite was and is classified, information is scant. Given the large size of the satellite, the reentry could either turn into a spectacular sky phenomenon or something less pleasant - the whole affair is already being compared to Skylab's fiery fall onto Western Australia in 1979. Given NROL-21's orbital inclination of 58.5 degrees, much of the planet is in 'the zone' ...

6 comments:

Daniel Fischer said...

Hardly any new details have come out since the initial reports, but at least it is believed that the spacecraft will disintegrate more or less completely on reentry.

Daniel Fischer said...

According to new information (as inofficial as everything said before!) the satellite in question is actually pretty small - but OTOH some tanks filled with toxic hydrazine could survive the reentry.

Daniel Fischer said...

If something comes down in the U.S. or U.S.-friendly countries there will be an attempt to recover the debris while experts disagress whether something sensitive could be learned from it or not.

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