Added 2 new A* pages:A damaged nuclear reactor in Earth orbit is hit and fragmented by an unknown object. Silly disaster movie? No, this is real stuff! Remember how I was talking yesterday about the SNAP (Systems Nuclear Auxiliary Power) nuclear generators used to power space electronics in the Apollo, Pioneer, and Viking programs via radioactive decay of plutonium? Well, there was another type of SNAP, which was an actual miniature nuclear reactor, and one of those, SNAP-10A|
image by USDoE (source)
was sent into a sneaky polar orbit in 1965. It sounds like it was a test, and it was meant to be able to keep the satellite housing it powered for a year, but 43 days after launch, a short in the spacecraft caused the reactor to shut down. So it was just up there orbiting the planet peacefully--as peacefully as a deactivated nuclear space power plant can--until 1979, when something happened that caused it to "shed" fifty pieces. It isn't known what that was, or whether or not radioactive material got out.
And it's still up there, sailing silently above our heads. Oh, SNAP.