US: Satellite might strike around March 6

If destroy plan failed, the satellite is due to enter Earth's atmosphere on or around 6 March.

US: Satellite might strike around March 6

The US ambassador to the United Nations warned Friday the defective US spy satellite was due to enter Earth's atmosphere on or around March 6 if efforts announced by the Pentagon to destroy it failed.

Christina Rocca, the US permanent Representative to the UN Conference on Disarmament said it was still not possible to say where exactly the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) Satellite would strike Earth.

"It could occur in any region on the Earth's surface between 58.5 degrees North and 58.5 degrees South latitudes," she told a special session of the Conference in Geneva which she addressed "in the interests of transparency."

The Pentagon announced plans Thursday to shoot down the defective spy satellite which was "in decaying orbit."

"This is an emergency response to prevent the possible loss of life. This engagement is not part of an anti-satellite and testing programme," Rocca said. The US did not intend to retain the technical capability resulting from the operation, she said.

"The president determined that protecting against the possible risk to human life was paramount. The highly-toxic nature of the satellite's fully-fuelled hydrazine tank, which would likely survive in a natural re-entry was the key factor influencing this decision," Rocca added.


The Pentagon had lost communication with the satellite shortly after it was launched in December 2006, putting it out of reach of ground controllers who could have brought it down safely.

Rocca said the plan was to fire three missiles on board three navy ships in the northern Pacific at the 2,270-kilogramme satellite.

The Pentagon said it would happen within the next two weeks, but not until the Space Shuttle Atlantis had returned to Earth, now scheduled for Wednesday.

"If this engagement is successful we anticipate rupturing the fuel tank and causing the hydrazine to dissipate so that it will no longer pose a danger to human life. We will choose the time, location and geometry of the engagement to maximise the chance of hitting the fuel tank," Rocca said.

The engagement would be timed to minimize the chance that any initial debris entering after the engagement would impact a populated area.

If the missile strike failed, she said, the US would provide any assistance necessary to national governments on whose territory any debris landed. The US would also be liable for any damage caused as under the terms of the 1972 Convention on International Liability for Damage Caused by Space Objects.

There was no response from other delegates at the special session Friday where the US explained its intent.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 16 Şubat 2008, 16:30