Archive for the ‘hydrazine’ Category

Only in America: Boundless Technology; Brilliant Youth

February 22, 2008

“Never have so many owed so much to so few.”
–Winston Churchill

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
Friday, February 22, 2008

Wednesday, USS Lake Erie’s sailors launched an SM-3 Missile that streaked into space to hit an errant U.S. spy satellite exactly as planned: right amidships of the 1,000 pound toxic hydrazine fuel tank.

The satellite was at about 133 miles in altitude and traveling at 17,000 miles per hour or 24 times the speed of sound.

In the twinkling of an eye, America demonstrated new, or at least unknown and unproven, technology and capability. The United States, for the first time, exploded a satellite in shallow space or just before reentry using tactical systems: ships and missiles and men trained to fight “in the air” were reaching into space: for the first time ever.

My Vietnam-born bride said, “Only in America.” Then she said, “The sailors did it.”

As she so often does, my wife Lien was making a huge statement with the fewest of words. She, in one breath, extolled the wonders of American technology as well as the devotion, care and brilliance of our American people: especially our often maligned American youth.

The next day, Serbian youths ransacked the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade and several other Embassies that violated their ideas about what was right and wrong about Kosovo.

I don’t recall America’s youth rioting to this extent for a while.

Sailors love, cherish, care for and maintain their ships and often high-tech and high-cost equipment with the greatest precision and detail. They are devoted, driven and professional.  They are both hard working and delightful.

If you have troubled kids or a dim view of American youth: visit a U.S. Navy ship.

I’ll extend this line of thinking to U.S. Army soldiers, U.S. Marines and U.S. Air Force airmen. I’m no Ollie North but I’ve been around the U.S. military and around the globe.

I have one unshakable conclusion: our young Americans are serving superbly.

We are a nation at war.

The war is a war of ideas.  We oppose no nation, no people and no religion.  Yet the people with other ideas are armed and dangerous: they use improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and women and children and the mentally infirm with bombs wrapped around them. 

We are using about one percent of our population to fight, with arms, the war against terror.

“Never have so many owed so much to so few.”

That one percent is sacrificing life and limbs, and I mean arms and legs are lost every day, for You.

I am reminded every day of Sir Winston Churchill: “Never have so many owed so much to so few.”

I am moved by the wonders of the U.S. Navy reaching into space and the dichotomies of this nation.

Some geniuses at the Pentagon, as they prepared to blast a satellite to smithereens and then watch the chucks or, as military analyst John Pikes calls them, “gravel,” of the space debris reenter the Earth’s atmosphere and burn up; said: “We need a toxic debris clean up team!”

But of course.

America needs a “Toxic Space Debris Clean Up Team.”

Never mind that junk in the form of meteors have been hitting the Earth for centuries and that satellites and their parts have been crashing to Earth since the 1950s without incident.

America needs a “Toxic Space Debris Clean Up Team.”

Funny, I don’t recall China’s “Toxic Space Debris Clean Up Team” when they blew up a satellite last year.  Do you?

They have 1.3 Billion people.  We Americans have a 0.3 Billion.  That is about 300 Million.

We stand, in terms of history and population, in China’s margin.

My wife submitted this commentary. “Only in America.”

So, with haz-mat suits at the ready, a quick response team stood on alert Thursday, the day after the satellite was destroyed, to head anyplace on Earth that the pieces of a lame satellite shot down by the U.S. Navy might fall.

And for the ultimate dichotomy: inside the “Toxic Space-Only Rocket Fuel Mop Up Kit” do you know what you’ll find?

Kitty litter.

Only in America.

Next time you have a cat stuck in a tree or sewer or a hunk of burning space debris smoldering on your lawn, dial 911.

Only in America.

American has ambulances almost everywhere.  In India, they pack you into the back seat of a taxi and hope for the best.

My friends in the world community will forgive me for this.  Others will castigate me.  But I believe in the wonder and wonders of America.

I live in a land of Boundless Technology and Brilliant Youth.

It might not always be so.

But for now, as my wife says, “Only in America.”

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U.S. Satellite Debris Response Team

February 22, 2008

No matter where the satellite debris lands, Operation Burnt Frost won’t be far behind.

That’s the name the U.S. army has given the quick response team tasked with cleaning up the pieces of the errant satellite shot down on Wednesday.
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Made up of military and civilian personnel from at least 15 government agencies, the group is on standby to travel anywhere pieces of the bus-sized satellite may have fallen. .
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Of particular concern is its 500 kilogram fuel tank filled with toxic hydrazine.
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The team, comprised of members from the Air Force, Coast Guard and Environmental Protection Agency, has hazardous material suits at the ready to guard them against hydrazine on the ground or in the air. They would wear breathing apparatuses to protect their lungs from the fumes and use absorbent material similar to kitty litter to soak it up if it were to leak.

“This is an incredible effort,” Army Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Horne, who’s in charge of the team, told The Associated Press. “What we’re doing is to make sure that we’re ready as soon as we’re called.”

The unit was assembled in less than a week as the U.S. military made preparations to shoot down the satellite, which failed shortly after it was sent into space in 2006, losing power and central computer function. It was successfully targeted with a missile Wednesday night by a Navy cruiser, achieving the stated goal of exploding its tank of hazardous fuel.

However, Gen. James Cartwright said Thursday the military will not be positive that the tank was completely destroyed for 24 to 48 hours. If fragments remain, Burnt Frost will be there to come to the rescue.

Other pieces of the satellite have been tracked entering the atmosphere, but none was larger than a football, Cartwright said.

If the plan to shoot down the 2,000-kilogram satellite seems unusual, that’s because it was. Non-functional satellites usually fall to Earth by themselves, burning up in the atmosphere upon re-entry. This one would have touched down during the first week of March, according to a military estimate.

In this case, officials said they didn’t want to risk the dangerous hydrazine hitting the ground, as fumes from the gas can kill people. Hydrazine is often used to power spacecraft, but can also be used in fuel cells and the manufacture of pharmaceuticals.

They’re hoping that if the tank wasn’t completely destroyed, it lands in the ocean, where the hydrazine would be neutralized by the water.

While the U.S. military seems pleased with how they’ve handled the satellite’s destruction, not everyone is cheering — particularly China, which was criticized by the United States for testing a satellite-killing weapons system in 2007.

The official word from the U.S. has been that the shoot-down wasn’t a test, but Defence Secretary Robert Gates recently indicated otherwise. When responding to China’s calls for more information, he said his country has provided sufficient information about “the test.”

U.S. officials said they’re confident any secret technology would be destroyed on re-entry but the explosion definitely helps matters.

Members of the Burnt Frost crew, however, are focused on making sure no one comes into contact with the controversial satellite’s fuel. The team, which is currently waiting at McGuire Air Force Base in central New Jersey, is experienced in locating debris over a large area. Some members worked on recovery operations after the explosion of the Columbia space shuttle in 2003 while others were deployed to clean up an oil spill that saw thousands of litres of crude dumped into the Delaware River in 2004.

The team’s members have been fitted with body armour and helmets in case the satellite falls into a war zone. They’ve also been vaccinated against tropical diseases like yellow fever and malaria.

No matter where it lands, the U.S. State Department is warning citizens worldwide to keep their distance.

With files from CTV’s Tom Walters, Peace and Freedom and The Associated Press

U.S. Navy Missile Destroys Dangerous Satellite

February 21, 2008

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
February 21, 2008

The United States Navy launched a missile that destroyed a dangerous satellite last night, high over the Pacific Ocean.

One missile; one hit.

Pentagon sources told Peace and Freedom that China requested all data on the event “almost immediately; within a few hours.”

The satellite, USA 193, was passing over the Pacific Ocean at about 17,000 miles per hour and at an altitude of about 130 miles.  It was hit by an SM-3 Missile launched by sailors aboard USS Lake Erie.

A Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) is launched from a guided-missile ...
A Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) is launched from a guided-missile cruiser in an image courtesy of the U.S. Navy. A missile from a U.S. Navy warship hit a defunct U.S. spy satellite 133 nautical miles (247 km) above the Earth in an attempt to blow apart its tank of toxic fuel, the Pentagon said on Wednesday. REUTERS/U.S. Navy/Handout 
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From missile launch to satellite destruction the mission time elapsed was only about three minutes.

The Navy announced that various sensors detected a “large explosion.”  Sensor analysts believe the fuel tank of the satellite had been hit as intended because they witnessed that “large explosion” but the Navy said computer analysis to confirm those first impressions would take about 24 hours.

The satellite’s fuel tank contained about 1,000 pounds of toxic hydrazine rocket fuel.

The Bush Administration said the mission was solely to destroy that dangerous hydrazine fuel.  President Bush made the decision to schedule the mission.  Secretary of Defense Robert Gates made the launch decision based upon information provided to him by military advisors last night.
The U.S. Navy may make its first attempt to shoot down an errant ... 

The mission was carried out, a spokesman said, because of the danger posed if some of that hydrazine survived reentry and landed on earth.  The hydrazine could have harmed humans and animals on earth.

“Nearly all of the debris will burn up on re-entry within 24-48 hours and the remaining debris should re-enter within 40 days,” a military spokesman said. 

Military analyst John Pike said the satellite, immediately after the missile hit, would be mostly “gravel.”
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“A network of land, air, sea and space-based sensors confirms that the U.S. military intercepted a nonfunctioning National Reconnaissance Office satellite, which was in its final orbits before entering the Earth’s atmosphere,” a Pentagon statement said.

Those same sensors will be used to monitor debris as it enters the earth’s atmosphere.

The SM-3 missile alone cost nearly $10 million, and officials estimated that the total cost of the project was at least $30 million.  The satellite cost about one billion dollars but it failed in 2006 just after it was launched into space.

“But if you kill something dangerous heading for people on earth; what is the right amount to spend?” a military officer asked rhetorically.

Related:

From the Washington Post:
Navy Missile Hits Satellite

From Associated Press Military Writer Robert Burns:
Navy Missile Destroys Dying Satellite

Peace and Freedom Note: People that know me have seen me follow Navy missile evolution for about 30 years.  In 1991, when Saddam Hussein launched SCUD ballistic missiles, we detected and tracked those from U.S. Navy ships in the Persian Gulf.  Subsequently, we were involved in the initial concept development for Navy ballistic missile defense.  Last night’s missile destruction of a dangerous satellite was one more step in the development of missile defense, first envisioned by President Ronald Reagan.

On March 23, 1983, President Reagan announced from the Oval Office, “I’ve reached a decision which offers a new hope for our children in the 21st century.” He explained his vision — and his defense budget’s inclusion — of the first funds to go toward this nation’s missile defense effort.
    
Liberals, and most of the media, derided the president’s project as “star wars.” Since 1983, America’s Missile Defense effort has become a multinational, multi-system effort: it has reached into space and it has come down to earth and the sea.

An undated image of Earth as seen from space. The U.S. Navy ...

Navy Missile Hits Satellite

February 21, 2008

 By Marc Kaufman and Josh White  
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, February 21, 2008; Page A01

A missile fired from a Navy cruiser in the Pacific Ocean hit an out-of-control spy satellite falling toward Earth last night, Pentagon officials said.

They said that a single SM-3 missile fired from the USS Lake Erie hit the satellite at 10:26 p.m. Eastern time. The missile struck the dead satellite about 150 miles above Earth as it traveled in orbit at more than 17,000 mph.

Military officials had hoped to rupture the satellite’s fuel tank to prevent 1,000 pounds of hydrazine from crashing to Earth, a situation they depicted as potentially hazardous for people on the ground. It was unclear last night whether the missile hit was able to break up the fuel tank, but Pentagon officials said they hope to determine that within 24 hours.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/20/AR2008022000240.html?hpid=topnews 

U.S. Navy Setting Up To Kill Dangerous Satellite

February 19, 2008

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
February 19, 2008

The U.S. Navy is setting up at sea with two missile armed ships to kill a satellite heading toward reentry with about 1,000 pounds of frozen toxic hydrazine fuel aboard.

The hydrazine could pose a threat to people and animals on the ground if it landed on earth, the U.S. Department of Defense and other government sources have said.  A National Security Council spokesman indicated that President Bush made the decision to order the Navy to eliminate the satellite.

The ships making ready to launch missiles are the USS Lake Erie and USS Decatur, according to U.S. Navy sources.  Lake Erie is a guided missile cruiser that has had special crew training and experience with the SM-3 missile which is expected to be used during this event.  Decatur is a guided missile destroyer with similar crew training and experience.
USS Lake Erie docked at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
USS Lake Erie (CG-70)

At least three SM-3 missile are known to be dedicated to this mission.
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Read Admiral Brad Hicks, the senior engineer in the Navy with oversight over these missiles and the support computer programs and systems, is know to be at sea aboard one of these ships.

The missile launch to attempt to kill the satellite cannot occur before the Space Shuttle Atlantis lands on Wednesday. 

According to sources, NASA has requested that the Navy hold off until Atlantis lands, even though there is practically no danger to the space shuttle from this event.
Decatur entering San Diego Harbor, 9 March 2004.
USS Decatur (DDG-73)

Both Russia and China have objected to the event, saying that the United States is potentially starting an arms race in space.

China already demontrated an-anti satellite (ASAT) capability by using a former strategic intercontinental launch system to take out a Chinese made satellite.

The Defense Department said that China’s test was in “deep space” and “the great altitude” of several hundred miles.  The U.S. Navy is attemting to destroy a U.S. made satellite at about 150 miles from the surface of the earth.  The satellite target is nearing reentry and is of potential danger to an area of life on earth.

The U.S. Navy’s SM-3 is much smaller and less capable than a Chinese intercontinental ballistic missile.  Experts tell Peace and Freedom that the Russian and Chinese objections are “laughable.”

The “kill vehicle” which is expected to hit the satellite is guided by an infra-red heat source.  Since the satellite is “cold,” the shot must occur while the sun is reflecting an IR source off the satellite.  This only occures during a time-frame once every day.

The first attempt to kill the satellite will occur on Thursday. 

The Navy is prepared to attempt additional intercepts of the satellite if necessary.

Related:

US to try satellite shoot-down Thursday: report

Navy Will Attempt to Down Spy Satellite