Thursday, February 21, 2008

US 193

:: artist's conception ::
Early press reports suggest the eclipse-night missile firing might have saved our bacon here in Portland, given the wayward spy sat's rapidly decaying trajectory.

Lots of journalists were saying how NASA needed to get its act off the stage, or risk taking a bullet, but now with the shuttle safe on the tarmac... it was show time at last!

Or did the projectile just clip off a rabbit ear? Hard to tell from this distance.

The Pentagon is doing some fancy signature analysis to see if the toxic payload of (N2H4)n leaves spectral traces in space, which'd be more like proof positive. Other agencies, observatories, have their eyes pointed skyward as well, checking for fallout.

In the meantime, I'm giving the navy my vote of confidence by walking outdoors, on a cold bright sunny day in late winter. Portland is beautiful this time of year. Last night's lunar eclipse was grand.

That being said, I was somewhat dismayed to learn that none of this recent rocket science counts as "already paid for" by the Star Wars initiative, as that was about building an anti-ballistic missile system (ABM), whereas this anti-satellite stuff (ASAT) is a whole different ballgame and required lots of last minute modifications.

Getting into this new business of shooting down friendly but out of control satellites, keeping humans safe from their toxic payloads, will cost a lot extra, the navy has been very emphatic about that.

Portlanders should be easy to persuade, in light of what's just been averted.

"moment of impact"
(click for larger view)