Slashdot has posted a news rumour that the shootdown of the American spy satellite USA 193 may occur in the next couple of days. The poster cites an analysis by amateur satellite watcher Ted Molczan:
Amateur satellite watcher Ted Molczan notes that a “Notice to Airmen” (NOTAM) has been issued announcing restricted airspace for February 21, between 02:30 and 05:00 UTC, in a region near Hawaii. Stricken satellite USA 193, which the US has announced plans to shoot down, will pass over this area at about 03:30. Interestingly, this is during the totality of Wednesday’s lunar eclipse, which may or may not make debris easier to observe
To add to the controversy, a new website entry from the Federation of American Scientists has asked whether the ‘shootdown’ is really necessary (or even a good thing), and proposes that the decision may be more related to the Navy grabbing the opportunity to test some anti-satellite technology without creating the controversy that China did last year. Meanwhile, Scientific American has posted a feature article which ponders whether we are entering a new era of ‘Space Wars‘.
No matter what the truth is behind the decision, or when the satellite ‘shootdown’ will occur, if you want to get a glimpse of it before it comes down, check out the Heavens Above website which has a resource page about the satellite, and tells you the best observing times for your location (enter your location via the front page first).