NORAD to Calgary: Watch out for space debris
Published Saturday, February 14, 2009 6:45PM EST
It was enough of a concern that the North American Aerospace Defense Command -- better known as NORAD -- called the Canadian government to let them know that a piece of space debris was headed towards Calgary.
And the debris was big: a piece of an unmanned Russian rocket, 10 square metres in size.
The rocket had blasted off from Kazakhstan on Tuesday and carried materials for the International Space Station. And when it re-entered the Earth's atmosphere, things got a little scary for the province of Alberta.
NORAD called the federal government at 10:15 a.m. on Friday morning to let them know about the falling debris, and by 10:30 a.m. the Alberta Emergency Management Agency (AEMA) had been notified. The time of impact was estimated to be 10:46 a.m.
Colin Lloyd, the AEMA's executive director for planning and operations, said authorities were only seconds from sending out emergency responders.
"The first scenario was extremely serious, if it had come down in the centre of Calgary for example," he told CTV Calgary.
The provincial government had even been preparing to issue an emergency warning and the premier had been told about the potential danger coming down from above.
But within minutes, the projected point of impact for the debris shifted eastward from Calgary. Officials were then told the debris might hit other Alberta communities, like Strathmore, Brooks, Hanna, Drumheller, or Vulcan. Fortunately, the threat passed.
NORAD would eventually report that the debris broke up over the Atlantic Ocean, close to the southern coast of Africa.
Earlier this week, a Russian satellite collided with an American satellite about 800 kilometres above Siberia.
With a report from CTV Calgary