Can the interstellar police fine NASA for this stunt?
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - A spacewalking astronaut tossed two large chunks of junk off the international space station Monday, hurling the old equipment into orbit.Your tax dollars at work. From the same people who brought you Space Lab.
Clayton Anderson, a sportsman who enjoys officiating basketball games back on Earth, heaved a 1,400-pound, refrigerator-size ammonia tank away from the station. His first toss was a 200-pound camera mounting.
Mission Control declared the tank throw great and "right down the middle."
It gets better.
Anderson said the tank looked "majestic" as it tumbled away, and the 4-foot camera mounting resembled "a huge star."If any of this junk falls to earth and hits someone or their property, can they send Anderson and NASA a bill for damages?
"I'll be sending my bill in the mail for trash disposal," he joked with Mission Control.
The ammonia tank had been launched in 2001 to provide spare coolant in case of a leak at the orbiting complex. The surplus ammonia was never needed, and the tank itself had exceeded its life expectancy.So we're contributing to a junkyard in space.
NASA normally tries to avoid adding to the orbiting junkyard, but officials felt they had no choice in this case. The equipment had to be removed, and because of a looming 2010 deadline for ending all shuttle flights, NASA does not have room on its remaining missions to return the tank to Earth.
Flight controllers expect the ammonia tank to orbit for 10 or 11 months before re-entering the atmosphere and burning up.This coming from the same geniuses who thought Columbia would return to earth safely. NASA officials better hope they don't end up in this court. Guilty as charged is all I say and throw away the keys.
There should be no danger of a collision between the free-floating tank and station before that happens, officials said. Small chunks are likely to survive next year's fall through the atmosphere; NASA officials hope those pieces will hit the ocean.
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Labels: Science and Technology