“the classical testing of an anti-satellite weapon..”

With the Atlantis orbiter safely back on the ground the skies are clear for the US Navy to take a shot at that satellite. The Guardian report thinks that may happen tonight, and this BBC report notes that Russia defence ministry think that “speculations about the danger of the satellite hide preparations for the classical testing of an anti-satellite weapon”. The Belfast Telegraph keeps emphasising that the “toxic satellite [is] over Ireland” and has a somewhat breathless Associated Press video report which I’ve added below the fold. Whilst technically accurate, in that the satellite is visible from Ireland, the orbit carries it over a number of other areas. Details of that orbit, and when the satellite will be visible [from Belfast], at Heavens Above. It will be briefly visible twice tonight first at approx 6.40pm and, if it’s still there, it will be visible again tomorrow at approx 6.30pm.Via the Belfast Telegraph report

And here’s the orbital path via Heavens Above. Remember that the Earth will be rotating under that orbit as well.

USA 193 orbit

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  • proving ground

    If the space shuttle was at the space station (which is allegedly at a safe higher orbit), and the return of the shuttle opens the way for the US military to shoot a missile at the ailing satellite … where does that leave the space station? Is it in danger or not? I reckon the changes of it being hit are virtually nill, but I would be at least curious if I were living on the space station.

  • iskram

    PLEASE have a look at the graphic that the Belfast Telegraph have put on their story on this…

    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/article3447948.ece

    It’s the most hilarious attempt at creating a parochial angle on a story I’ve ever seen.

    “Toxic satellite orbiting over Ireland ‘to be shot down tonight'”

  • esmereldavillalobos

    Now, I haven’t done chemistry for a while but I remember from a documentary recently that the defunct British space/rocket program used hydrazine (the toxic payload) as fuel. A quick look at wikipedia reveals that hydrazine is “unstable” and has a boiling point of just over 100 celsius. I repeat, I’m no chemist but surely a violent and very hot re-entry will a) cause it to boil and then in it’s enclosed space b) explode (flash point being much lower than 100 degrees). Do the russkies have a point about a missile test here? I’m sure many other satellites that had a toxic (nuclear) payload have been allowed to burn up on re-entry. Call me a conspiracy nut but it’s all a bit fishy to me.

  • Pete Baker

    By most accounts the risk has been overly stated.

    Which leaves the Russian assessment of the reasons for this test missile firing the most likely explanation.

  • BfB

    All in favor of supporting Russia against the USA’s right to defend itself (foreign to you NI people), raise your hand….. Hope Slugger has the bandwidth capacity.
    Tsk, tsk.

  • BfB

    Oops..not NI…I.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    It’s a response to China’s success at the same thing, obviously; anything they can do, we can do better etc…

    Wouldn’t it be great if the lunar eclipse was the background to the explosion? (Obviously unlikely, but then that meteor hitting Mars kept us enthralled for weeks.)

  • joeCanuck

    I’ve worked with/handled hydrazine. It’s not that hazardous. MSDS says to wear safety goggles and gloves.

  • time traveller