Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on July 18, 1976 · Page 141
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Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 141

Charleston, West Virginia
Issue Date:
Sunday, July 18, 1976
Page 141
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Metal from decaying satellites and missiles falls to earth. Hollow, 20-pound sphere (I), probably of Soviet origin, was found in May, 1975, near Winter Haven, Fla. Charred aluminum was picked up near Marietta, Ohio, in lanuary. by Cole Richards W atch out! You could be hit by metal parts of missiles and satellites falling from the sky. This "space junk" falls into the atmosphere nearly every day, and most of it burns up. Some falls into the sea. But a few pieces land in populated areas in the U.S. and around the world. Debris from space comes from both U.S. and Soviet space equipment The junk has ranged from mere nuts and bolts to a Soviet body the size of a railroad car, says Mike Harloff, a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) public information officer. Here are some examples: In September, 1962, a cylindrical metal object {diameter 15 centimeters, weight 21 Ibs.) landed on a street intersection in Manitowoc, Wis. It was identified as part of Soviet Sputnik IV, launched May 15,1960. In May, 1964, a charred piece of electronic equipment (weight 175 Ibs.) was found near La Fria, Venezuela. It was later identified as part of a U.S. satellite launched April 27,1964, that decayed a month later. In October, 1966, Wisconsin was the target again. Near Tomahawk, a titanium spherical pressure vessel (diameter 14.7 inches, weight 30 Ibs.) hit and was identified as Soviet in origin. From Cosmos 316 The most frightening report came in August. 1970, when five oblong pieces of steel (2 to 2.5 feet long, average weight 150 Ibs.) and one flat steel plate (4 by 4 feet, weight 640 Ibs.) lacerated the earth in Kansas, Texas and Oklahoma. They came from Soviet Cosmos 316, launched Dec. 23,1969. In September, 1974; May, 1975, and January, 1976, areas around Lowell, Ohio; Winter Haven, Fla., and Marietta, Ohio, were hit with space junk. The Winter Haven fragments landed at a country road intersection. The USAF Space Object Fragment Summary notes activity around the world. South Africa, Cuba, Brazil. Aus- tralia, Argentina, Canada, Malawi, India, Spain, Zambia, Peru, Swaziland, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Finland, Angola, Chad and Nepal have all been hit by .debris. While it is impossible to tell just how much and where such fragments have fallen at sea, in June, 1969, pieces (average weight about 22 Ibs.) fell onto a Japanese freighter off De-Kastri port. U.S.S.R., and in July, 1969, a small fragment (about 30 centimeters long) fell on the deck of a German ship in the Atlantic. Other pieces fell in the water near the ship. They were from the first stage of a Saturn booster used to launch Apollo 11, July 16,1969. What worries NORAD While human injury is possible from the debris, there is greater danger, says a North American Air Defense (NORAD) spokesman who wishes to remain anonymous. "Pieces of falling debris from space coufd easily appear on radar display screens as a reentering ICBM [intercontinental ballistic missile] and trigger a Soviet missile attack upon the United States," warns the officer stationed at NORAD Headquarters, Colorado Springs, Colo. To avoid such a disaster, NORAD attempts to predict when a decay will take place and where it could possibly reenter the earth's atmosphere. The data are then relayed to NASA and the Pentagon. The Pentagon advises its counterparts in the Soviet Union. How often do we communicate such information? According to the NORAD source: "Constantly." The Satellite Situation Report--data compiled by the Goddard Space Flight Center, NORAD, and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory -- puts the number of objects in orbit as of Feb. 29, 1976, at 3828 and decayed objects at 4881. "On the average, something decays each day," states the NORAD officer. Plans are now being considered to exhibit the space junk at the new Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, Washington, D.C., and at NORAD Headquarters in Colorado Springs. BgSs%gss5s 5?5-°- ·** yf - *feg£353* LOOK FOR THEM AT BETTER STORES EVERYWHERE A.G.S., MUSKEGON, MICHIGAN 49443 , CAI NEEDEELP Cushion-Lift® Chairs lift you slowly and safely to your feet and provide help comfort and independence for people afflicted with Arthritis, Rheumatism, Stroke or Parkinson- ism- Write [or information, ORTrOKINETICSINC. Dept. P76, P.O. Box 2000 Waukesha, Wis. 53186 · Phone (414) 542-8847 15

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