US spy satellite to hit Earth early March

A dead US spy satellite in a deteriorating orbit is expected to hit the Earth the first week of March, officials, quoted by an Associated Press report, said.

The Associated Press report said it is not known where on Earth the satellite will hit.

But officials familiar with the situation say about half of the 5,000-pound spacecraft is expected to survive its blazing descent through the atmosphere and will scatter debris, some of it potentially hazardous, over several hundred miles, the report said.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, the report said.

The satellite is outfitted with thrusters, small engines used to position it in space, that contain the toxic rocket fuel hydrazine. Hydrazine can cause harm to anyone who contacts it, the report added.

The satellite, known by its military designation US 193, was launched in December 2006. It lost power and its central computer failed almost immediately afterward, leaving it uncontrollable. It carried a sophisticated and secret imaging sensor.

US officials do not want this equipment to fall into the wrong hands, the Associated Press report further said.