Washington, Jan 27: A US spy satellite which has lost control, is likely to strike the Earth in late February or early March. It is not known where the satellite, containing hazardous materials, will come down on the planet, government officials said adding they have no idea when and how the satellite lost power.
Lawmakers and other nations are being updated about the situation, the officials said on condition of anonimity as the information is classified secret. They said the spacecraft contains rocket fuel hydrazine, a colourless liquid with an ammonia-like odor. It is a toxic chemical and can cause harm to anyone who contacts it, the New York Times reported. In 1979, NASA's 78-ton Skylab fell from orbit and landed into the Indian Ocean and across a remote section of western Australia. It was the largest uncontrolled re-entry by a spacecraft.
In 2000, NASA engineers successfully directed a safe de-orbit of the 17-ton Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, using rockets aboard the satellite to bring it down in a remote part of the Pacific Ocean.
In 2002, fragments from a 7,000-pound science satellite dropped over the Persian Gulf, a few thousand miles from where NASA officials predicted it would plummet.