Miami Valley Plays Key Role in Destroying Rogue Satellite
By Congressman Michael Turner (OH-03)
Recently, the National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC) headquartered at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base played a critical role in the successful destruction of a stray satellite. This successful operation underscores the importance of the work done at Wright-Patterson and the need to prepare the base for our upcoming expansion. Successes like the destruction of the satellite also demonstrate to the rest of the country that the recent $230 million Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) investment in Wright-Patterson can pay dividends for the entire nation.
Soon after it was launched in December of 2006, an American satellite lost power and experienced failure in its central computer. Unfortunately, the computer failure prevented technicians on the ground from controlling the satellite. As a result, the satellite began a rapid decent towards the Earth. The satellite’s fuel tank was full of frozen and highly toxic hydrazine. It was possible that the tank could have survived a free fall through the atmosphere and opened upon crashing. This would have dispersed the dangerous gas into the area surrounding the crash site.
To ensure against possible harm, U.S. military officials ordered a precision ballistic missile strike to destroy the rogue satellite. The professionals at NASIC tracked the satellite and monitored its progress as it moved through space. On February 20th, the missile directly hit the satellite’s fuel tank from over 130 miles away and caused it to explode. The debris from the explosion is expected to burn up in the atmosphere over the ocean and the largest piece is expected to be only the approximate size of a football. NASIC also tracked the debris to ensure it posed no threat to air or space assets.
Our community has long been on the forefront of technological advancement. From the Wright Brothers’ first flight to Charles Kettering and the self-starting engine, the Miami Valley and the surrounding area have been leaders in the search for discovery. This tradition has been carried into the present day because of the spirit of ingenuity found at NASIC and throughout Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. It is critical for our region and for our continued national security that we maintain our role as leaders in high-tech innovation.
That is why the $230 million in BRAC funds that are on the way to Wright-Patterson are so important. These funds will bring an Air Force School of Medicine and other facilities where research on the medical effects of flight will be conducted. These facilities will add over 1,000 high tech and science research jobs to our community and will also provide a direct benefit to our men and women in uniform.
Throughout my time in Congress, I have consistently supported Wright-Patterson and the incredible work that they do at facilities like NASIC. As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I am proud of the work of our men and women at Wright-Patterson on missions such as the recent destruction of the stray satellite. I look forward to working in the future to make certain Wright-Patterson has the tools they need to continue developing cutting edge technology in defense of our national security.
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