I’ve been watching the saga of the dying spy satellite with vast amusement. It seems that in the next few weeks a big (multi-ton) U.S. satellite is going to deorbit due to lack of fuel, and come crashing to earth. Somewhere.

The “somewhere” is the problem– it’s unlikely the entire satellite will burn up in the atmosphere, so some pieces of it are almost certain to hit ground. And at this point it’s virtually impossible to know where that will happen. Since it’s a spy satellite, it’s in an orbit that’s specifically intended to take it over land and populated areas as much as possible. I imagine the odds are still pretty good that it would land in ocean (since that’s 75% of earth’s surface) but apparently The Gov has decided to take no chances.

So they’re going to blast it out of the sky with a missile. The official story is that the government is concerned about the dangerous hydrazine fuel on board, and how terrible an effect it would have on people who find the crumpled remains of the satellite and– I don’t know– decide to drink the fuel or something.

This is the funny part to me. The whole reason the thing is coming down is because it has no fuel left. If it had fuel– even a little– they could use a deorbit burn to push it down and intentionally crash it into the ocean somewhere. Thus, the story about the toxic fuel causing problems for Auntie Em who finds it is almost completely unbelievable.

The truth, as anyone with the brains of cabbage could tell you, is that The Gov is worried the satellite will end up in China or somewhere that a handful of smart engineers could get the pieces, dissect them, and figure out some of our super duper spy technology. It has absolutely nothing to do with hydrazine, and everything to do with protecting secrets.

My question, I suppose, is why they don’t just come out and say that. Why not admit that they’re worried about technology falling into the wrong hands? Heck, Bush could even use the mysterious specter of The Terrorists and say he doesn’t want al-Qaeda to find the parts. But no. They concoct this incredible story about dangerous fuel, probably knowing full well that even a mildly retarded ferret could figure out the truth.

Laralee says the reason is that (and I quote) “They don’t even know how to tell the truth any more.” And in a way, I wonder if that’s true. The Gov is so accustomed to lying about its activities– clandestine or otherwise– that they can’t even come out with a true statement when everyone knows what’s going on.

Personally, I hope the thing plows into the White House or Pentagon in a spectacular fireworks show. That would be poetic justice.