jump to navigation

Time for the Bill February 21, 2008

Posted by gregquill in Uncategorized.

Satellite: NRO-L21 (USA 193)
Here’s what we know about it:

“Operator: U.S. National Reconnaissance Office
Manufacturer: unknown (likely Lockheed Martin)
Model: unknown
Launched: 14 December 2006
Orbit: 351 km x 365 km x 58.5 degrees (at the time of failure)

“Efforts to communicate with the military satellite were unsuccessful right from the beginning. It reportedly entered safe mode seven seconds after arriving in orbit. This was later contradicted by Marine Gen. James E. Cartwright, vice chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff. According to him, the spacecraft fell silent a few hours after arriving in orbit. “We don’t know even know that it’s in a safe mode. This is a totally unresponsive satellite.”

“Apparently owing to an on-board software fault, ground control was unable to (re)activate the spacecraft. The problem seems to be related to the fact that the attitude control and telemetry units share a common data bus, which requires exact timing. The satellite has not deployed its solar arrays and, according to officials, carries no nuclear power source on board, so it can be expected to have run out of power once its batteries had discharged.

“According to news reports, the spacecraft was built by Lockheed Martin and served experimental purposes, probably including testing synthetic aperture radar technology. It reportedly cost “hundreds of millions of dollars.”

“The mass of the satellite was given by officials as roughly 2,250 kg, of which roughly 1,260 kg would survive re-entry, including a tank that contains about 450 kg of hydrazine – toxic fuel that hasn’t been used as the satellite never performed any manoeuvres, and meanwhile likely has frozen.

“Although the chances of an impact in a populated area are small, the potential consequences would be of enough concern to consider mitigating actions. Therefore, the [U.S.] President has decided to take action to mitigate the risk to human lives by engaging the non-functioning satellite,” the U.S. Department of Defense said. In an unprecedented move, it is to be shot down using up to three modifed tactical missiles fired from ships located in the Pacific Ocean at the end of February 2008.”

The Department of Defense said that it cost $40 million plus to shoot it down. So, we need to send a bill to Lockheed-Martin for the cost of shooting it down, plus the cost of the satellite and its software to begin with, plus the cost of putting it into orbit. Since it never worked right from day one.

It’s only fair.



1. brenda - February 21, 2008

Where can I get some of this attitude control you speak of? Besides Lockheed Martin? You think they have any at Wal-Mart?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: