With a massive dead NASA satellite due to plunge back to Earth this week,
the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is laying the groundwork
for a fast response in case the 6 1/2-ton spacecraft falls over American soil.
The defunct spacecraft, called the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS),
is projected to make and uncontrolled, fiery fall on Sept. 23, plus or minus a day,
according to NASA.
Consequence planning...be it satellite re-entry, terrorist act, or natural disaster,
the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and its daughter agency FEMA would
bring to bear the expertise and authorities of agencies across the federal government
to support state and local governments.
These roles are outlined in the National Response Framework,
a guide to how the nation conducts all-hazards response — from the
smallest incident to the largest catastrophe.
FEMA's "consequence planning" stems from lessons learned after the 2003
Columbia shuttle disaster over Texas, an incident that provided that agency with
critical insight towards planning, preparing and responding.
FEMA also revved up a satellite re-entry action plan in early 2008.
The worry then focused on the out-of-control spy satellite USA-193
(also known as NROL-21) owned by the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO).
The classified USA-193 satellite tipped the scales at roughly 5,000 pounds
(about 2,268 kg), and about 50 percent of it was predicted to survive re-entry.
Of key concern was a tank that held about a half-ton of toxic hydrazine,
a fuel source thought likely to survive re-entry and be intact when it struck the Earth,
rupturing and releasing the hazardous material.
"We will have six Federal Joint Interagency Task Forces located around
the country ready to deploy the moment we know the impact area,
responding to assist you in your role of immediate consequence management."
FEMA's on-call duties became moot when the errant NRO satellite was
shattered by an interceptor missile on Feb. 21, 2008, rocketed spaceward
from the USS Lake Erie, a U.S. Navy Aegis cruiser stationed west of Hawaii.
Contents of the spacecraft's propellant tank were dispersed high above the Earth by the shootdown.
The UARS satellite due to fall from the sky this week does not have any fuel remaining onboard.
NASA commanded the satellite to use it all in 2005, when it was decommissioned,
to put it on its years-long disposal course.
Duncan told SPACE.com during a Sept. 9 teleconference that his organization will
notify FEMA "as part of our chain of command notifications for re-entries over North America.
" On the actual day of the UARS re-entry, Duncan said, they will be providing 24-hour,
12-hour, 6-hour, and 2-hour predictions as estimated for the actual re-entry time are improved.
"Obviously FEMA is always prepared to assist … should any of these components
land in the United States," said Nicholas Johnson, chief scientist for NASA's
Orbital Debris Program at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.
Originally posted by IamAbeliever
The satellite has no chance of hitting the US according to NASA, yet FEMA has made preparations "just in case". A bit odd, IMO.
FEMA just needs to go stand in the corner and stay out of the way.
Originally posted by bigern
I hope it lands in my yard,
I don't care what they say I'm keeping it.