back to article US declares 1400-mile Pacific sat-shoot exclusion zone

The US military has issued a warning notice barring flights above a large area of the northern Pacific for two and a half hours early on Thursday morning. The stricken spy satellite marked for destruction by US warships will pass over the taped-off area just at this time, indicating that the first shot will take place then. …


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  1. Lewis Page (Written by Reg staff)

    Taped off area out at sea

    I did not write that. Before you all start.

  2. Joe Harrison Silver badge

    A nice big rubberneck-free zone

    The "dodgy satellite" gives them a perfect excuse to kick nosey parkers out of a huge and rather remote area for a couple of hours. I'm surprised the Roswell people haven't been asking just what, exactly, is expected to be incoming at that time.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Taped off

    That's a lot of tape.... does this come out of a special DOD budget for dumb ideas.

  4. zedee
    Thumb Up

    Any trans-Pacific airliners....

    going nearby should get a decent fireworks display, looking out the correct window.

    Three of the largest sparklers this side of a NEO deflection attempt!

  5. Matthew

    @Joe Harrison

    I haven't yet checked but if this area is - as I strongly suspect - international waters, it will only keep out the rubberneckers who are scared of being hit on the head (either by the satellite or by the US forces in the area).

    It's good advice to stay away but outside national boundaries, totally unenforceable. I don't expect this to stop the septics from trying though....

  6. Tim Spence


    Is it a coincidence that this is happening at pretty much the exact same time as the eclipse of the moon, on pretty much smack bang the opposite side of the earth? Is it? Hmm?

  7. John Macintyre

    star wars?

    I thought the point of all that hype over a star wars thing the us wanted to shoot down missiles from the sky would do this for them? Or is this in a part of the world they haven't bent to their will/installed the system yet?

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Re: Taped off area out at sea

    But... but... Lewis, that sounded rather cute.


  9. Ian Ferguson
    Black Helicopters


    That's the exact same time as the total eclipse of the moon - obviously no coincidence! Them damn US military are obviously shooting down the moon itself while we can't see it! Sneaky bastards!

    That's no moon... etc

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    John Macintyre

    The new missile shield is not fully operational yet. The Aegis cruisers and their Standard Missiles are actually a component of the "multilayered" approach they're using since the Regan era space-based weapons never got off the ground.

  11. DZ-Jay


    >> "It's good advice to stay away but outside national boundaries, totally unenforceable."

    Hum, with a couple of destroyers and other battleships patroling the area, I'm thinking there may be ways for them to enforce it. Sure, it may not be politically or diplomatically correct to do so, but neither is shooting down the satellite, and that didn't stop them with that.

    So my guess is that the heavy naval hardware will keep out the rubgberneckers who are scared of, hum, being shot at by warships.


  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ebay killing

    if parts of the satellite fall in US, expect to see it on ebay selling for millions (prob to a russian buyer)

  13. Stu

    Youtube vid?

    Are we likely to see a youtube video of the missile launch, plus one of those NASA style long distance visual tracking type videos that record the Shuttle as it goes into orbit?

    Being a man I like watching things get blowed up. ;-)

    Or is it likely to be totally top secret?


    Flame icon cos I want 2 see its flames as the satellite drops out of the sky in bits.

  14. Tawakalna
    Black Helicopters

    satellite? what satellite?

    for *satellite*, read alien spacecraft, being sneaked in under the cover of a lunar eclipse for a maritime rendezvous with the US military. The warships are to prevent us seeing what's going on, not to shoot down some pretend sattelite. This is the next step in the lizard takeover of Earth, the landing of the cloaked alien mothership in the Pacific.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    Won' it be a larf if they miss.

    Who will they hit in another friendly fire episode?

    Will they try agin next time round?

    Ho! Ho!

  16. Anonymous Coward

    NOTAMs and Reasoning

    NOTAMs are a standard warning system used whenever a military force intends a firing of any sort. They are used for civilian hazard warnings, too. They can be (and are) used in both designated exercise/firing areas and on the "high seas". It's a bit unusual to see one this large, though.

    As for enforcing them - well, it's your own stupid fault if you ignore a NOTAM and ending up wearing some shrapnel. But, in international waters, it's not legal to stop you, IIRC. It's been a while though and I'm a bit rusty on my maritime law.

    As for why they're shooting this thing down? Pretty obvious really. The US military budgets to shoot a certain amount of ammunition each year - I wouldn't be surprised if they budgeted for three SM-3s this year, hence sending three ships with one shot each. That money (for the ammunition accounting line) absolutely *must* be expended this financial year, so they just had to find *something* to shoot. Accountants rule the world, unfortunately.

    It's the tweed jacket, thanks.

  17. Kenny Millar


    Aegis? Surely they won't be trying to do an insurance job on it?

    I can see the claim form now..

    Item: A big secret satellite.

    Cost: $100M

    Damage: Totally destroyed

    Cause of damage: I smacked it with a big explosive rocket.

    CLAIM DENIED - Damage self inflicted.

  18. Dalek13

    Ha - you've all missed the point...

    Look at the positioning, trajectory, hardware. This is all a cover story cunningly engineered to capture attention away from the true objective: the final and long awaited removal of that pesky Canada and the creation of the New North American Sea!!!! Mwwwwaaahahahahahaahahahah!!

    Mine's the dressing gown with the pills in the pocket...

  19. The Gritter

    Why isn't...

    ...there a self destruct sequence?

  20. Anonymous Coward


    1,400 miles long and nearly 700 miles

    Hmm, average yacht travels at say 8 knots over the ground, so if you are in there already it could take (weather permitting) at least 87.5 hours (3.6 days) to get out of the way.

    As for policing it with a couple of destroyers, have you any idea how big that area is and how hard it is to located an intruder, not to mention even a destroyer doing something like 40 knots could take 1.5 days to get to the intruder.

    Thats why it takes sooooo long to rescue people when it all goes tits up out there and you just have to hope there is someone near!

    Guess anyone out there will just have to duck.

  21. Christoph Silver badge

    What about the poison gas?

    All these fake conspiracy theories are obscuring the real problem.

    The US has openly admitted that the hydrazine on this spacecraft is so dangerous that they have to spend a fortune shooting it down.

    But it has been widely reported that lots of similar craft fall back all the time.

    Why has the US not shot these down too, since it has explicitly stated that they are deadly dangerous? Why are they bombarding the whole planet with deadly poison gas?? Will your children be poisoned on their way to school by falling US poison satellites??????

    Er, thanks, it's the white one with the ties at the back.

  22. daniel Bronze badge

    @The Gritter

    The sat is electronically dead... it cannot be piloted, recharged, deployed... or self destructed...

    Unless it is not a satellite :)

  23. Nev Silver badge

    Impossible shot!

    How can they possibly hit any Iranian civil airliners from that far away?

    They should at least give themselves a sporting chance!

  24. James Smith
    Thumb Up

    Lunar Eclipse

    I'm no space expert, but wouldn't the positioning of the moon affect the trajectory of the satellite? The timing is such that the moon being directly opposite would bring the satellite closer to the Earth around the point where they're going to shoot at it.

  25. andy gibson

    @ Yikes by Anon Coward

    I would imagine that an "average yacht" would travel at 0 knots over the ground. Unless it had wheels.

    [/coat already donned and I'm out of the door]

  26. Andy
    Black Helicopters

    Sell on eBay?

    If a piece were to come down anywhere close to me I'd phone the American embassy and ask them to collect it and please not to torture me.

    Anybody stupid enough to believe the American government would mobilize three warships to shoot down something and then just allow the person who finds the pieces to keep them probably deserves to be waterboarded by the CIA until they confess.

    Sure it wouldn't be legal to kidnap and torture the moron trying to sell pieces of satellite but what are you going to do about it? How many missiles did that ship fire? Five? Six? Are you feeling lucky punk? Well are you?

    Dirty American Harry is quite correct: A loaded six-shooter aimed at the cranium is a trump in any argument on international law.

  27. Alan Clegg
    Thumb Up

    NOTAM updated (add 24 hours)

    On the mailing list where I was made aware of the original NOTAM, an update has been posted by John Locker:

    New NOTAM issued for the same period 24 hours later.....similar track...similar acquisition time so they have ignored the 1330 GMT shot and are keeping daylight attempts.

    02/067 (A0708/08) - AIRSPACE STATIONARY RESERVATION WITHIN AN AREA BNDD BY 3145N/17012W 2824N/16642W 2352N/16317W 1909N/16129W 1241N/16129W 1239N/16532W 1842N/17057W 2031N/17230W 2703N/17206W SFC-UNL. 22 FEB 02:30 2008 UNTIL 22 FEB 05:00 2008. CREATED: 19 FEB 12:30 2008

    Compared to

    02/061 (A0693/08) - AIRSPACE CARF NR. 90 ON EVELYN STATIONARY RESERVATION WITHIN AN AREA BNDD BY 3145N 17012W 2824N 16642W 2352N 16317W 1909N 16129W 1241N 16129W 1239N 16532W 1842N 17057W 2031N 17230W 2703N 17206W SFC-UNL. 21 FEB 02:30 2008 UNTIL 21 FEB 05:00 2008. CREATED: 18 FEB 12:50 2008

    Looking at the predictions this could go on for five days or so , with the time of the shot getti8ng a little earlier each day. John

  28. Steve

    Re: Why isn't...

    "...there a self destruct sequence?"

    Probably got damaged at launch when the Damge Control System shorted out due to a sloppy conversion to imperial units.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    That is a huge area... think of it this way:

    john o groats to lands end: approx 1000 miles

    lands end to lowestoft: approx 500 miles

    Therefore, this exclusion area is over 3 times the size of the UK (yes, I'm including northern Ireland to help make the thing more rectangular)

    I'm just wondering if they've considered what will be slightly higher in orbit at the planned time - they're sure to miss (they are Americans) and those missiles will keep going until they hit something!

  30. g e

    I wonder if...

    It'll be worth watching that area on google maps for a while... just in case..

  31. Tim Blair

    friendly fire?

    lets hope there's no British troops around for them to kill....

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Christoph

    Usually a satellite comes back to earth only when it has run out of maneuvering fuel - it may still contain nasties such as radioisotopes (or just a lot of mis-placed kinetic energy), but it wouldn't contain the few thousand pounds of hydrazine that this satellite does.

    What effect that has on the real reasons for the planned sat destruction is completely unknown.

  33. Anonymous Coward

    Thunderbirds Are Go

    Has anyone warned International Rescue, or will the Americans take out Thunderbird One with friendly fire?

    Mine's the one with strings on the sleeves.

  34. Christoph Silver badge

    @ Anonymous Coward

    How are we supposed to get a good conspiracy theory going if you keep introducing these ridiculous "fact" things?

  35. Paul
    Paris Hilton

    @The Gritter

    "Why isn't there a self destruct sequence?"

    It's a cunning ploy designed to "out" those El Reg readers who just look at the headlines and then jump straight to the comments section without really having a clue what they're talking about. :)

    Bloody hard to issue a self-destruct command if the sat is unresponsive and out of control, which is how they got into this pickle in the first place.

  36. Remy Redert

    Boosters and other misc.

    Satelites rarely reenter the atmosphere with more then a tiny amount of fuel left, that is absolutely true.

    Now if only we could stop using those huge hydrazine filled liquid boosters that are common to many multiple stage rockets and are often discarded into decaying orbits with quite some fuel (Many more times then the maneuvering fuel for a lousy little satelite) left in them.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If they miss

    If they miss the said satellite their missiles will hit the moon, causing the moon to vier from it's normal orbit around the earth, hence in a few weeks time the moon will impact a specific country

  38. Christoph Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    @ Paul

    Simple to do a self destruct in those circumstances.

    "If you are still in free fall and have not heard from Control after X days, go BOOM"

  39. b shubin

    Totally taped off

    perhaps a chalk outline would be more effective. easier to clean up after, and more eco-friendly.

    thank you, the bunny suit...yes, the orange one.

  40. Andy Gates

    Except that...'s not thinking at all. So it doesn't know if it's in free fall, what time it is, or the price of apples.

    The self destruct for these things is usually "fire the thrusters into a de-orbit burn", by the way. Exploding it would be a debris hazard and pain in the diplomatic arse.

    A de-orbit burn is tricky with dead electronics and a frozen (hydrazine) propellant tank. This thing is as responsive and as controllable (and about as big) as a VW Camper with a flat battery. Tumbling through space. Full of seekrit tech.

    Are any bookies offering odds yet?

  41. RRRoamer


    Only if the electronic watch dog timer is still running. Here's a test for you:

    1) reach back and find the power cord on your computer. You know, the one between the wall socket (or UPS) and the back of the power supply in your computer.

    2) Yank it out.

    3) Type in "format c: <RTN>"

    4) Plug that power cord back in.

    5) Reboot computer

    6) Verify that your C: drive was formated.

    7) If not, type in "format c: <RTN>"


    @Anonymous Coward

    Actually, all they are trying to do is destroy the Top Secret computer technology that is on the Apollo 11 lander. They don't want the Chinese to get it and use the information to build there own moon lander.

    Or, they are pissed that Directv raised their rates again, so they are going for the 101 sat!

  42. Bob C

    We gots gooder gunz

    "I'm just wondering if they've considered what will be slightly higher in orbit at the planned time - they're sure to miss (they are Americans) and those missiles will keep going until they hit something!" - anonymous coward.

    We be dumb americuns, buts our guns is really gooder than y'alls.

  43. Disco-Legend-Zeke
    Paris Hilton

    Just Called my sports book, no proposition.

    The Imperial Palace Sports Book here in Las Vegas does NOT have a proposition on the event.

    I read that the odds are 4 to 1 that it will hit on the first try.

    Then there are all the little side bets about where the pieces land.

    Better double up on the tinfoil hats this week.

    Paris Hilton icon cause her and i both celibrated our birthday last week in the same room. (but not the same day) she looks better in person than in the scrawney pics you always see of her. .

  44. heystoopid


    hmmm , a few picture taking bears in the air from Vladivostok will will be flying some interesting patrol patterns that day along with a cosmos bird somewhat close by ?

  45. Gobhicks

    Incoming Mothership

    So, if you manage to cross the floating tape boundary and sneak past the naval patrols, you'll probably start finding unconscious cattle floating on the surface...

  46. Anonymous Coward

    How big that area is

    @AnonCwrd: >1,400 miles long and nearly 700 miles wide

    > As for policing it with a couple of destroyers, have you any idea how big that area is

    A rough estimate (without any kind of map to hand) makes it about four times as large as GB, or perhaps as large as France, Spain and Portugal combined.

    More to the point, perhaps as large as Washington, Oregon and California combined.

  47. Morely Dotes

    @ Anonymous Coward

    "they're sure to miss (they are Americans)"

    Yes, the well-known inability of the American military to hit anything is what caused Hitler to successfully invade and conquer Britain back in the day, isn't it?

    And we managed to miss the Moon completely, and couldn't get any space probes out to Jupiter, Saturn, or beyond.

    It's a good job the good old British Space Programme was there to ensure that there was a backup for the American airmen and for NASA.

    Tell me, nitwit, did you eat a bowl of Fucking Stupid for breakfast?

  48. Tim Blair


    Maybe they should have bought an extended warranty?

  49. I.M.Fantom

    Fire the missles if you have them....

    What good are anti-satellite missiles if you can't occasionally test or use them?

  50. SnowHawk


    They did get the warranty, but it expires on Saturday and it says that you have to return the satellite to the manufacturer no later than the final day of the warranty period.

  51. cris

    @Morely Dotes

    He was referring to *South* Americans. Boy you guys living in the USA are sure paranoid.

  52. James Pickett
    Paris Hilton


    "plenty of elbow room to fire their interceptor missiles up into the descending spacecraft's path"

    And what happens to the ones that miss. It seems we're trading one bit of wayward satellite for lots of rocket-propelled live ordnance - no wonder they want people out of the area!

    PH - the usual reasons.

  53. John A Blackley

    The only pertinent question

    Okay, who's offering odds on a clean miss?

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    damned americans, can't even get an rv point right....

    Dammit, I told them the rv point was in the Azores. What a cockup. For that, I am bringing my UFO to beijing instead.

  55. Matt Caldwell

    I think the point was missed...

    NOTAMs are usually only suggestive even in U.S. airspace unless they specifically create a TFR (temp. flight restriction). NOTAMs aren't designed to create long-term no-fly-zones. Anyway, why would you have to sneak into the area, and why would anyone want to? By being in there you are the only one that stands a chance of getting a missile or satellite dumped on your head and if you get too close to the AGEIS cruisers I'm sure they'll let you know. Its too big an area to patrol, and so big why would they want to? Its for the benefit of everybody else, mostly commercial jets I'm sure.

  56. The Mighty Spang

    all too difficult

    send blokes up in the shuttle to paint a union jack or a picture of John Simpson ( on the satellite, then let the US air force know about it, im sure theyll find some way of blowing it up. and your troops don't have to come to your ally's country to explain why you did it whilst out on a jolly.

    little bit of politics ladies and gentlemen, my name's ben elton, good night!

  57. Tim Blair
    Thumb Down

    history for the ignorant

    "Yes, the well-known inability of the American military to hit anything is what caused Hitler to successfully invade and conquer Britain back in the day, isn't it?"

    err right? when was that? why was that? what did the yanks provide and when did the UK manage to finish paying them off? what did the usa pay for the jet engine? the merlin engine? that computer thing? and we get mac Donald's "friends" and W bush killing 100,000's of people. bring back Ronald Reagan, at least his dementia was bad enough that Nancey would see a clairvoyant to make major policy decisions.. bush coldn't think what to do for 15min's when told in public that 2 planes had slammed into the world trade center buildings. can he go weewee on his own?

  58. Hollerith

    a good day to bury bad news

    And while everyone is observing the exclusion zone, the US can:

    1. bury a shed-load of nuclear waste ont he ocean floor

    2. test a nuclear device

    3. try out that poison that is supposed to work on all life forms

    4. depth-sink those videos of CIA torture sessions

  59. Will

    @paul townend

    Please guys, official units only.


    The standard unit of area shall be the nanoWales, defined as 1nWa, representing 0.0000207km2 or 20.78m2, 5.195 Thai talang wah or 28.99 Old Spanish square vara. The microWales, milliWales and Wales (Wa) are, naturally, accepted multiples of the base nanoWales.

    * Football pitch = 194.89nWa

    * Wales = 1,000,000,000nWa

    * Belgium = 1.47Wa

    * Democratic Republic of Congo = 113.3Wa

    * Known universe (rolled out flat) = 19468502x1012x10256Wa


    * The eruption of Vesuvius took out an area of 13 milliWales, although the effects of the blast were felt up to a thousand brontosauruses away. Survivors reported rocks and pumice the size of Bulgarian airbags falling from the sky for three days before the tragedy, and experts have calculated the total debris would fill around 120,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

  60. charles blackburn

    well i suppose....

    "As it passes over the firing area, the satellite will be approximately 3,000 miles and ten minutes out from the western coast of Canada, the next land it will pass over. "

    it *IS* only canada... eh :P

  61. Anonymous Coward

    Won't affect transpac airline flights.

    I do aircraft spotting for some lasers in Hawaii*, and at 0330 there's not much out there, other than possibly some flights eastbound from Asia for early-morning arrivals. Everything else tends to operate hours earlier, or take routes south and/or east of the satellite's ground track.

    *If you have to ask, you don't need to know.

  62. Hollis the Utile

    Its not a big deal, or warhead

    You all do know that Its warhead is only 137 pounds, right?

    Its roughly the same size they use to kill soft targets such as radar vehicles and hummer/land rover type trucks.

    its not a big deal.

  63. Anonymous Coward

    Alarmist information

    All the debris is supposed to fall out "within two orbits", so I suppose that means anywhere along the track. Following that pretty red line around the planet with Google Earth, the track goes right over East London.

  64. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Those missiles will keep going until they hit something!

    True, and if they miss, that thing will probably be on the ground. These babies don't have the burn to reach orbit, which is why they're only shooting it down now, as it comes into range.

  65. TeeCee Gold badge


    Sorry to state the bleedin' obvious, but there's a damned good reason why it doesn't have a self-destruct capability.

    It wouldn't be as much fun.

    Waxproof jacket, green wellies, flat cap and bring round my Aegis destroyer with the hastily modified missiles please. I'm off to go *extreme* clay-pigeon shooting with me mates......

  66. JimC Silver badge

    > The firing area seems to have been chosen

    >[to safeguard] the satellite's technology.

    Maybe, or just possibly because its the only place where the Americans would be allowed to fire their missiles... One side of the conversation...

    "Hey, Mr Putin, its GW here. Could we bring a few anti satellite missiles into Siberia so that we can have a go at shooting down a satellite"

    "No, Of course they wouldn't. What makes you think our missiles might miss and hit the wrong target?"

    "Whaddya mean, ask the Brit Army?"

    And of course the Atlantic is narrower and busier...

  67. Alan Clegg

    Updated KMZ

    I've updated the KMZ file with more information from Ted. It includes pass information for the next couple of days and removes the SBX-1 NOTAM which I am unable to confirm.

  68. Dave

    NOTAM=NOtification To Air Mariners (I thought)

    or has the acronym been updated?

    the 'taped-off' area seems relatively unused, has a v low permanent population and is mostly west of track from areas of oggin that are easily accessible by USN surface craft; should be a really good test of SM-3 capability

    (for once): good luck Yanquees

  69. Rob

    @RRRoamer .. I followed your instructions

    Now my laptop won't boot any more.

    What gives?

  70. Tim

    One for the rocket scientists....

    So, these missiles, if by chance they were to miss, would they be going fast enough to permanently escape the gravitational field & leave orbit, or would they eventually return to earth? If the latter, how long might it take?

  71. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    God help us...

    If they upgraded the AEGIS to Windows Vista...

  72. Mike Richards Silver badge

    First to eBay?

    Anyone in the Pacific with a bit of BacoFoil and a Tamagochi they need to get rid of on eBay?

  73. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Only in Canada you say?

    So they're doing all this about ten minutes, orbital time, from my house? Won't even have time to duck and I'm having enough trouble sleeping as it is.... Friendly fire and civilians don't mix. Welcome to British Columbia, the Middle East of the Pacific.

    Here's hoping the mods to the missiles retain the self destruct feature, small payload or not.

    AC as I live way too close to the border and the US flies over lots.

    Mine's the one with the Kevlar liner and the round hat.

  74. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    Funny! So its not shot down then

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