The following two articles were downloaded from www.sightings.com
Ultra Secret US Spy Satellite And Rocket Explode — Billion Dollar Loss
By Duffin McGee
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) – A Titan 4A rocket carrying a top-secret spy satellite exploded in a fireball of debris and smoke just after blastoff from Cape Canaveral Wednesday, the Air Force said. With the rocket’s value estimated at $300 million and the satellite’s at $800 million to $1 billion, the failure was one of the costliest in the history of the U.S. space program. The unmanned rocket, built by Lockheed Martin Corp, lifted off at 7:30 a.m. EDT carrying the satellite for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). It began to self-destruct about 42 seconds later, the Air Force said. There were no reports of injuries.
In a statement, the Air Force said the Titan rocket had begun to self-destruct, prompting ground crews to destroy it. “U.S. Air Force range safety officials sent destruct signals to further break up the rocket and mitigate possible damage from falling debris,” the Air Force said. Brigadier General Randy Starbuck told a news conference the Air Force had no information on what had caused the mishap. He warned anyone who came across shreds of the doomed rocket or its ultra-secret cargo to keep away from it. He said helicopters were surveying the water off the Atlantic Coast where debris fell. “There is debris out there in the water. It should be considered hazardous material. If someone sees that debris out there on the water, please don’t pick it up,” he said, and asked anyone who saw debris to contact the 45th Space Wing at Patrick Air Force Base, south of Cape Canaveral.
The rocket was off the ground and over the ocean when it exploded in an impressive blaze of light and smoke. In video taken of the launch, it appeared to tip over just before the explosion. The plume caused by its load of toxic fuel drifted out to sea and dispersed after the blast, eliminating danger to coastal residents, officials said. “Oh no,” the commentator said as the rocket burst. After taking a deep breath, he said: “At this time it appears we have had a major malfunction of the vehicle. We have had an explosion.” There were two or three distinct loud bangs, setting off car alarms and burglar alarms in nearby Cocoa Beach. Debris continued to arc up and out before it fell toward the ocean. A press site about 7 miles from the launch pad was hurriedly evacuated just after the rocket blew. Space analysts said the Titan was carrying an eavesdropping satellite, code-named Vortex, that would have listened in on military and government communications in global hotspots such as the Middle East, India and Pakistan, and China. The satellite was designed and built by the NRO, which would have operated it had it reached orbit. A similar satellite was launched in May on another Titan rocket. The launch had originally been scheduled for July, but was postponed so ripped insulation on the rocket’s upper stage could be repaired.
On Wednesday, launch had been set for 6:02 a.m. EDT, but was delayed because of problems fueling the rocket, the Air Force said. The boosters that were the only rockets firing at the time of the explosion were made by United Technologies Corp., a subcontractor for Lockheed Martin, a Patrick Air Force Base spokeswoman said. The 20-story rocket was laden with nearly 500,000 pounds of highly toxic fuel. Under launch rules, the Air Force does not launch Titans if there is any chance that propellants could be blown toward populated areas in the event of an accident. The last Titan 4 rocket explosion was at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California in August 1993. One of that rocket’s solid rocket boosters exploded a few seconds after liftoff. The Titan rocket is the most powerful unmanned launch vehicle used by the United States. The Titan 4A that blew up Wednesday was the last of that particular model scheduled for launch. The air force introduced last year an improved version of the rocket, also made by Lockheed Martin.
— ~ —
Did Titan Missile Destruction Spew 20 Pounds Of Plutonium Over US?
From Russell D. Hoffman <email@example.com>
** STOP CASSINI NEWSLETTER Volume #69, August 20th,
1998 ** Incoming Email To The Stop Cassini Newsletter From Karl
Subject: Titan 4 Launch
The following message was left on the answering machine of the
Durham, North Carolina-based group Waste Awareness and
Reduction Network on the afternoon of August 17, 1998.
The transcript was made by Jim Warren, the executive director of
the group, who said that the “person sounds credible.” I listened to
the tape and, indeed, he sure does.
There must be an effort to see if this information can be
corroborated — but, considering that a secret military project was
involved, I think it will be very, very difficult.
The E-mail of WARN is firstname.lastname@example.org and its telephone
number is (919) 490-0747 if you would like more information from
Here is the transcript of the phone message:
I’m calling in regards to the accident on Wednesday involving the
Vortex classified satellite being launched by the Titan.
I’ll make this very brief.
I’m a project engineer and I think the public needs to know that was
an RTG power device. When the Air Force issued the destruct
command after the initial explosion, they did so to reduce the
possibility of the public determining that there was, indeed, a
plutonium fuel cell.
They reduced everything to particulate matter when they issued the
destruct sequence. Which means the twenty pounds of plutonium
went airborne at 20,000 feet off the coast of Florida on Wednesday
during a failed Titan launch of the Vortex.
That plutonium has now passed over the majority of the East Coast.
This is the single largest nuclear accident in the history of the United
Its risks for public safety are unprecedented.
And major media sources are not reporting this. They are reporting
the accident but they are not including the critical piece of
information that the public needs to be aware of — And that is an
RTG power device and the Air Force chose to detonate it after the
initial explosion, and thus ensuring the plutonium went to particulate
and was dispersed atmospherically across the East Coast.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news but, like I say, I am a project
We have all been affected by this.
And I hope that you or somebody in your organization can help get
the word out.
Please get on the Internet, contact foreign newspapers, contact
everybody you can because this has to get out.
There are three more Vortex launches scheduled.
Thank you very much.
-End Of Message-
Comments By Russell D. Hoffman
There are a number of oddities here that make this call suspect. But
there are many oddities that make the official explanation suspect as
well. Something definitely does not smell good here, and it’s leaving a
bad taste in my mouth. (Vaporized plutonium is of course odorless,
tasteless and microscopic even in fatal quantities.)
If the military was using an RTG, it seems to me that they would
have at least built them the way NASA builds them, with GISs and
GPHSs (inside the RTGs) to protect the plutonium (somewhat) in
the event of an accident. Indeed the military works closely with
NASA on NASA’s RTGs (as does DOE).
The caller is clearly stating that the RTG he says was on this rocket
did NOT have any of these protective systems. Otherwise only a tiny
fraction (still possibly a tragedy) would be the most anyone would
really expect to be released. NOT the whole amount. It is hard to
believe that there would be no protective casings, since NASA was
so adamant that their entire safety system was based on these layers
of protection. Would the military not use them at all? If so, then the
RTG would be very different from the NASA style. Quite possible,
actually, since just before Cassini flew last year, NASA (to deflect
political heat they were feeling at the time) announced that the next
generation of RTGs would be five times more efficient than the
RTGs on Cassini, thus assuring the semi-comatose American public
that they had things under control. So major changes were occurring
to the system anyway. Maybe NASA’s new system works by
eliminating the casings, too! And I have never been given any reason,
despite several requests for information, to think the Russian system
does not work that way (no casings).
Another problem with this message someone left on WARN’s
answering machine is that if an RTG was lost as described, with its
20 pounds or so of Plutonium 238 (mostly), it is likely the radiation
would be easily detectable, even if it was released and vaporized at
20,000 feet. That’s just an awful lot of plutonium! Of course, if the
Air Force could be sure it would all blow out to sea first, with most
heavy particles landing in the ocean, and then scatter widely as it
came back over land, they’d be okay (free of culpability: No
*discernable* deaths), providing no cruise ships, pleasure boats, or
rainbow warriors with geiger counters happen to pass beneath the
plume. And that, they might have been able to ensure with a large
enough safety range.
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