Another U.S. Air Force “Weather Satellite” Just Got Shot Down…err “Broke Up in Orbit”

Another U.S. Air Force “Weather Satellite” Just Got Shot Down…err “Broke Up in Orbit”

 

By Brian Berger, Space News |

 

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An artist’s illustration of a Defense Meteorological Satellite Program satellite in orbit.

 

Credit: Lockheed

 

WASHINGTON — A third U.S. Air Force weather satellite that launched more than 20 years ago has broken up in orbit, Air Force Space Command disclosed Monday evening.

 

Air Force officials confirmed the breakup of the long-retired Defense Meteorological Satellite Program Flight 12 satellite (DMSP F-12) after the Joint Space Operations Center at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, detected an additional object orbiting alongside the 22-year-old satellite.

 

DMSP F-12, which the Air Force retired from service in 2008, had the same battery assembly that was implicated in the February 2015 breakup of DMSP F-13. [Worst Space Debris Events of All Time]

 

While both satellites were built by Lockheed Martin and launched less than a year apart, DMSP F-13 was still in service when it suffered its breakup, producing nearly 150 pieces of debris.

 

DMSP F-12, in contrast, was shut down in 2008 — a process that entails burning off the satellite’s remaining fuel, releasing compressed gasses, and discharging the battery. The Air Force said Monday evening it was tracking just one piece of debris associated with DMSP F-12’s breakup.

 

 

Properly shutting down a DMSP satellite at the end of its service life is no guarantee that it won’t suffer a catastrophic breakup, however. In 2004, a 13-year-old DMSP spacecraft, dubbed DMSP-F11, broke apart and produced 56 pieces of cataloged space debris, even though it had been taken out of service and gone through the normal end-of-life showdown procedures.

 

Following the February 2015 breakup of DMSP F-13, the Air Force said a total of nine DMSP satellites launched between 1982 and 1997 all had the same failure-prone battery assembly. At the time, only seven were still in orbit. With the breakup of DMSP F-12, that number is down to six. Of those, only one — DMSP F-14 — is still in service.

 

The Air Force said determining the cause of DMSP F-12’s breakup will be especially difficult since they have no telemetry from the long-silent satellite to help assess the incident.

 

The Air Force still has five DMSP satellites in service. The youngest, DMSP F-18, was launched in 2009. The oldest, DMSP F-14, was launched in 1997.

 

In February, the DMSP suffered another setback when the Air Force lost the ability to command DMSP F-19 due to an onboard power failure. The satellite had been in orbit less than two years when the failure occurred.

 

This story was provided by SpaceNews, dedicated to covering all aspects of the space industry.

 

 

Chinese Anti-Satellite Capabilities

 

Chinese Anti-Satellite [ASAT] Capabilities. China has tested two direct-ascent antisatellite missiles: the SC–19 and the larger DN–2. Direct-ascent …

 

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http://www.globalsecurity.org/space/world/china/asat.htm

 

 

Operation Burnt Frost – Wikipedia

 

Operation Burnt Frost was the code name given to the military operation to intercept and … on 20 February, 2008 at approximately 10:26 p.m. EST from the USS Lake Erie, which used a Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) to shoot down the satellite.

 

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Burnt_Frost

 

 

 

Earth-based Lasers Could Zap Space Junk Clear From Satellites

 

Lasers on the ground could be used to nudge debris in orbit, which could help move dangerous space junk away from satellites and spacecraft, scientists working with …

 

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http://www.space.com/11157-nasa-lasers-shooting-space-junk.html

 

Anti-satellite weapon – Wikipedia

 

Anti-satellite weapons (ASAT) are Space weapons designed to incapacitate or destroy ….. could seriously hinder the latter’s military operations, the ease of shooting down orbiting satellites and their effects on operations has been questioned.

 

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-satellite_weapon

 

They Shoot Satellites, Don’t They? | Foreign Policy

 

Aug 9, 2014 … While shooting down missiles may be hard, shooting down satellites is easy. And the spread of hit-to-kill technologies is an enormous danger …

 

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http://foreignpolicy.com/2014/08/09/they-shoot-satellites-dont-they/

 

Navy missile hits dying spy satellite, says Pentagon – CNN.com

 

Feb 21, 2008 … The U.S. Navy succeeded in its effort to shoot down an inoperable spy satellite before it could crash to Earth and potentially release a cloud of …

 

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http://www.cnn.com/2008/TECH/space/02/20/satellite.shootdown/

 

Satellite Shoot Down: How It Will Work – Space.com

 

Feb 19, 2008 … The U.S. Navy could shoot down an errant spy satellite as early as Wednesday night. Now a new computer model shows what might happen.

 

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http://www.space.com/4994-satellite-shoot-work.html

 

China and Russia are planning to take down US satellites, Air Force …

 

Mar 16, 2016 … A U.S Air Force general has claimed countries such as China and Russia are planning to shoot down American military satellites with missiles, …

 

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http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/articl%5B…%5Dft-lasers-Air-Force-general-warns.html

 

 

 

Satellite Shootdown (2008) Military Channel – YouTube

 

Nov 15, 2013 – 45 min – Uploaded by vhsclassic90sThe reasons for shooting this satellite down were: 1. Practice, 2. The broken satellite had …

 

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c09m-2qiMgE

 

The Fighter Plane Powerful Enough to Destroy a Satellite in Space …

 

Jun 11, 2015 – 4 min – Uploaded by Smithsonian ChannelBoils down to, until it becomes a real problem no one will care and … karma on those who …

 

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vxfk5eWlbQo

 

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