Old Spy Satellite Falling to Earth

Inoperative device could hit in late February, March
By Caroline Zimmerman,  Newser User
Posted Jan 26, 2008 8:27 PM CST
This satellite image provided by GeoEye, taken Aug. 13, 2006, shows Capitol Hill and surrounding area. (AP Photo/GeoEye)   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – A dead US spy satellite will likely tumble out of space and hit Earth late next month or early March, the AP reports. Unnamed officials admitted it may contain toxic material but refused to say where it might land or whether it could be shot from the sky. "We are looking at potential options to mitigate any possible damage this satellite may cause," said a National Security Council rep.

The biggest satellite free-fall was in 1979, when a 78-ton abandoned NASA space station tumbled into the Indian Ocean and scattered across the Australian outback. In 2000, NASA used rockets to direct a 17-ton station's fall into the Pacific Ocean. Another tumble was less controlled—a 7,000-pounder hit Earth's atmosphere 5 years ago and fell over the Persian Gulf, thousands of miles from where scientists predicted.