U.S. spy satellite to crash on Earth

By Xinhua

Washington : An out-of-control U.S. spy satellite which is expected to crash to the Earth, will not endanger human, a senior U.S. official said Monday.

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If there are debris of the satellite surviving the intense heat, most of them would probably fall into the oceans, which account for more than 70 percent of the Earth, said White House National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe.

“Given that 75 percent of the Earth is covered in water and much of the land is uninhabited, the likely percentage of this satellite or any debris falling into a populated area is very small,” he said.

However, the U.S. government was monitoring the satellite and examining different options to “mitigate any damage,” he added.

Local media reported that one of the options the military is considering is to use a missile to destroy the satellite in space, but it raised concerns including creating space debris.

According to Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman, the out-of-control satellite is estimated to crash to Earth in late February or early March, but he stopped short of disclosing the location.

“We are aware of it, we are monitoring it … we take our obligations seriously with respect to the use of space,” he told reporters on Monday.

The satellite, which was identified by several U.S. officials to the media on anonymity as a classified National Reconnaissance Office spacecraft launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California in 2006, has lost power and propulsion to be controlled any more.

The crash of the satellite has given rise to worries that it might leak out highly toxic substances.

In 1979, Skylab, a 78-ton abandoned NASA space station fell from orbit in an uncontrolled manner. Its debris eventually dropped into the Indian Ocean and across a remote section of western Australia harmlessly.