FW: Mars96 White House Statement

Jeff Hunt (jhunt@eagle1.eaglenet.com)
Sun, 17 Nov 96 19:44:21

--- On Sun, 17 Nov 96 19:34:23 EST  John Pike <johnpike@fas.org> wrote:

>                       THE WHITE HOUSE
>                     Office of the Press Secretary
>                            Washington, DC
>For Immediate Release                    November 17,  1996
>           Reentry of Russian Space Probe
>Early this morning, the seven-ton Russian Mars Space Probe failed to
>exit earth orbit enroute to Mars when booster rockets on its fourth stage
>misfired. Bawsed on tracking data developed over the last sixteen hours,
>the U.S. Space Command (SPACECOM) now estimates the spacecraft
>will reenter the Earth's atmosphere just after 8:00 P.M. (EST) tonight,
>with a predicted impact point in east-central Australia. This estimate will
>be refined as the spacecraft's orbit continues to decay and could be
>adjusted . However, the possibility of an impact on the United States is
>assessed by SPACECOM to be very low. 
>President Clinton has been in touch this afternoon with Australian Prime
>Minister Howard. Other nationas along the orbit path are being alerted
>and we have been in close contact with the government of Russia. The
>Vice President, the Chief of Staff and the National Security Council have
>also coordinated throughout the day with the appropriate domestic
>agencies, including FEMA, NASA and the Department of Energy. 
>SPACECOM believes the size of the probe is large enough to give
>pieces of it a chance of surviving reentry, though most of the spacecraft
>will burn up in the atmosphere before impacting the earth. The spacecraft
>also carries onboard its Mars robotic landing vehicles four small
>radioactive plutonium-power energy generators, or "batteries." Russian
>space authorities have informed NASA that these "batteries" will survive
>reentry and not break-up upon Earth impact. In short, Russian space
>authorities believe there is no danger of nuclear contamination.
>Nevertheless, in what is considered to be the extremely unlikely event
>that one or more of the batteries break open, the United States is
>prepared to offer all necessary assistance to any nation to deal with any
>resulting problems. 
>                          # # # 
>John Pike
>Director, Space Policy Project
>Federation of American Scientists
>307 Massachusetts Ave. NE
>Washington, DC 20002
>V 202-675-1023,   F 202-675-1024,  http://www.fas.org/

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