Re: USA193 decay

From: Chris Jones (
Date: Tue Jan 29 2008 - 21:38:10 UTC

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    Thomas Dorman wrote:
    > My feeling are there is more to this decaying sat,than
    > meets the eye of media at this time.Over the years
    > many US satellites have decayed back to earth with
    > propellants on board that were dangerous.
    > In the way the U.S. government is acting in this
    > matter and the reports of no solar panels being
    > observed.I am getting the gut feeling that this
    > satellite may have been powered by a Snap type power
    > unit.If so that could be the big worry over this sat.
    > debris coming down over a land mass.
    As far as can recall, every US-launched "Snap type" power
    unit is designed to withstand reentry without breaking
    apart and dispersing its plutonium.  This has been
    demonstrated on multiple occasions, even on payloads (e.g.
    the Aquarius Lunar Module) that were not expected to ever
    return to earth.
    So, even if there were plutonium on board US-193 (something
    which is, to say the least, unproven), I wouldn't expect it
    to be a radiation hazard.
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