Falling Spy Satellite May Hit North America

Military won't know exact landing spots until 30 minutes to impact
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 30, 2008 11:38 AM CST
The spy satellite US 193 may scatter debris over North America as it crashes to Earth, prompting military officials to monitor its fall.   (Neo Edmund (Shutter Stock))
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(Newser) – A defunct and out-of-control spy satellite is falling to Earth, and could scatter debris somewhere in North America in late February or early March, the AP reports. The Air Force says the satellite called US 193, whose central computer failed shortly after its launch in 2006, is big enough that it probably won't all burn up on reentry, and some pieces will hit the ground. But they aren't a security issue, the head of US Northern Command tells the AP.

"It's really just a big thing falling on the ground that we want to make sure we're prepared for." When US 193 begins to burn 59 miles above Earth, it will produce flares visible from the ground. Preparations are under way to estimate how many pieces of the "big thing" will make it through the atmosphere, but the most critical information, like predictions of crash sites, won't be possible until about T-minus 30 minutes.