Re: Testing at Kwajalein Atoll

Dale Ireland (
Thu, 18 Dec 1997 16:50:56 -0800

I am very surprised to hear that they impact "white hot". Iron meteorites of similar size are cool to the touch on impact even though their initial velocities are very much higher because the high heat part of reentry is long over, they are in free fall for the last 5-10 minutes before impact at a terminal velocity determined by air density and they rapidly cool. The high heat period being only a small portion of the reentry. 

At 07:30 PM 12/18/97 +0000, wrote:
>Since the readers of this list closely monitor satellite re-entries, I
>thought that perhaps they would be interested in the cover story in
>the current issue of Air & Space magazine. It describes the testing of
>American ballistic missiles at Kwajalein Atoll in the South Pacific.	
>According to the article, every few months a missile and its launch
>crew are selected at random and flown to Vandenburg Air Force Base
>just north of Los Angeles. After all the appropriate preliminary steps
>are taken, the crew performs a live firing of the missile -- now armed
>with dummy warheads and targeted not against a potential enemy, but
>for the waters of Kwajalein's lagoon.	 After a flight lasting
>approximately 30 minutes and covering half of the Pacific, the
>re-entry vehicles, even minus their nuclear payloads, pack a powerful
>punch. Unimpeded by any braking system, they endure a scorching
>re-entry and, at arrival on-target, the human-sized white-hot
>projectiles slap the water's surface with a force powerful enough to
>propel a 300 foot splash column into the air --- OUCH!!!!

Dale Ireland  47.7N 122.7W
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