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Military Hush-Up: Incoming Space Rocks Now Classified

 
Anonymous Coward
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06/10/2009 09:36 PM
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Military Hush-Up: Incoming Space Rocks Now Classified
Military Hush-Up: Incoming Space Rocks Now Classified
By Leonard David
SPACE.com's Space Insider Columnist
posted: 10 June 2009
05:35 pm ET


For 15 years, scientists have benefited from data gleaned by U.S. classified satellites of natural fireball events in Earth's atmosphere – but no longer.

A recent U.S. military policy decision now explicitly states that observations by hush-hush government spacecraft of incoming bolides and fireballs are classified secret and are not to be released, SPACE.com has learned.

The satellites' main objectives include detecting nuclear bomb tests, and their characterizations of asteroids and lesser meteoroids as they crash through the atmosphere has been a byproduct data bonanza for scientists.

The upshot: Space rocks that explode in the atmosphere are now classified.

"It's baffling to us why this would suddenly change," said one scientist familiar with the work. "It's unfortunate because there was this great synergy...a very good cooperative arrangement. Systems were put into dual-use mode where a lot of science was getting done that couldn't be done any other way. It's a regrettable change in policy."

Scientists say not only will research into the threat from space be hampered, but public understanding of sometimes dramatic sky explosions will be diminished, perhaps leading to hype and fear of the unknown.

Incoming!

Most "shooting stars" are caused by natural space debris no larger than peas. But routinely, rocks as big as basketballs and even small cars crash into the atmosphere. Most vaporize or explode on the way in, but some reach the surface or explode above the surface. Understandably, scientists want to know about these events so they can better predict the risk here on Earth.

Yet because the world is two-thirds ocean, most incoming objects aren't visible to observers on the ground. Many other incoming space rocks go unnoticed because daylight drowns them out.

Over the last decade or so, hundreds of these events have been spotted by the classified satellites. Priceless observational information derived from the spacecraft were made quickly available, giving researchers such insights as time, a location, height above the surface, as well as light-curves to help pin down the amount of energy churned out from the fireballs.

And in the shaky world we now live, it's nice to know that a sky-high detonation is natural versus a nuclear weapon blast.

Where the space-based surveillance truly shines is over remote stretches of ocean – far away from the prospect of ground-based data collection.

But all that ended within the last few months, leaving scientists blind-sided and miffed by the shift in policy. The hope is that the policy decision will be revisited and overturned.

Critical importance

"The fireball data from military or surveillance assets have been of critical importance for assessing the impact hazard," said David Morrison, a Near Earth Object (NEO) scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center. He noted that his views are his own, not as a NASA spokesperson.

The size of the average largest atmospheric impact from small asteroids is a key piece of experimental data to anchor the low-energy end of the power-law distribution of impactors, from asteroids greater than 6 miles (10 kilometers) in diameter down to the meter scale, Morrison told SPACE.com.

"These fireball data together with astronomical observations of larger near-Earth asteroids define the nature of the impact hazard and allow rational planning to deal with this issue," Morrison said.

Morrison said that fireball data are today playing additional important roles.

As example, the fireball data together with infrasound allowed scientists to verify the approximate size and energy of the unique Carancas impact in the Altiplano -- on the Peru-Bolivia border -- on Sept. 15, 2007.

Fireball information also played an important part in the story of the small asteroid 2008 TC3, Morrison said. That was the first-ever case of the astronomical detection of a small asteroid before it hit last year. The fireball data were key for locating the impact point and the subsequent recovery of fragments from this impact.

Link in public understanding

Astronomers are closing in on a years-long effort to find most of the potentially devastating large asteroids in our neck of the cosmic woods, those that could cause widespread regional or global devastation. Now they plan to look for the smaller stuff.

So it is ironic that the availability of these fireball data should be curtailed just at the time the NEO program is moving toward surveying the small impactors that are most likely to be picked up in the fireball monitoring program, Morrision said.

"These data have been available to the scientific community for the past decade," he said. "It is unfortunate this information is shut off just when it is becoming more valuable to the community interested in characterizing near Earth asteroids and protecting our planet from asteroid impacts."

The newly issued policy edict by the U.S. military of reporting fireball observations from satellites also caught the attention of Clark Chapman, a planetary scientist and asteroid impact expert at Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado.

"I think that this information is very important to make public," Chapman told SPACE.com.

"More important than the scientific value, I think, is that these rare, bright fireballs provide a link in public understanding to the asteroid impact hazard posed by still larger and less frequent asteroids," Chapman explained.

Those objects are witnessed by unsuspecting people in far-flung places, Chapman said, often generating incorrect and exaggerated reports.

"The grounding achieved by associating these reports by untrained observers with the satellite measurements is very useful for calibrating the observer reports and closing the loop with folks who think they have seen something mysterious and extraordinary," Chapman said.

Small Asteroids Pose Big New Threat
Top 10: The Greatest Explosions Ever
Gallery: Earth's Meteor Craters
Leonard David has been reporting on the space industry for more than four decades. He is past editor-in-chief of the National Space Society's Ad Astra and Space World magazines and has written for SPACE.com since 1999.

Comments (19)
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posted 10 June 2009, 5:31 pm ETAerospace_Cadet wrote:

Sounds to me that the US military is preparing to test some re-entry vehicles. Since they no longer report when a fireball will happen they also won't have to explain what a fireball was. I can hear it now... "We don't know what that anomoly was because we are no longer keeping track of them."

Reply | Recommend (8) | Report Abuse posted 10 June 2009, 6:03 pm ETJonHouston wrote:

Makes me wonder if the Military knows about a large body that is headed our way and they want to keep it a secret to prevent panic?

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posted 10 June 2009, 6:48 pm ETAnonymousRex wrote:

That wouldn't make any sense, Jon. They're talking about analyzing things already burning up in the atmosphere. This chance wouldn't do anything to hide a "large body" approaching from a kabillion miles away. Even my telescope can see Ceres on a good day.


Recommend (0) | Report Abuse posted 10 June 2009, 6:50 pm ETAnonymousRex wrote:

That should say "change" not "chance". No edit button here, eh?

Recommend (0) | Report Abuse posted 10 June 2009, 7:01 pm ETbobjones79 wrote:

Anonymous Rex is correct. This has nothing to do with incoming space rocks. This most likely has to do with SPAWARS (Space Wars), eithier re-entry vehicles used to transport elite soldiers across the globe in minutes, or weaponized satellites.

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posted 10 June 2009, 6:06 pm ETsvenlittkowski wrote:

This purely egotism of military powers shows once more that we people of the Earth should unite and have only one government, probably a body by the United Nations. A united mankind simply don't need expensive and data-hiding national armies anymore, and we can use that money to invest into science, the fight against poverty and the restoration of our ecological system.

Also, this is a call to all scientists to stop making scientific data available to those military powers which stopped to make scientific data available to us scientists.

My dream is a united mankind. One government. No threatening, expensive local armies anymore. But dramatically improved budgets for science, culture, and welfare of mankind and planet.

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posted 10 June 2009, 6:51 pm ETWablam wrote:

There are water shortages, fuel shortages, oil shortages, food shortages, genocides, homicides, and suicides. There is poor treatment of different cultures, races, women and children spread all over this world. There are wars being fought right now that cost a bazillion times more than the money that was spent on homogenizing humanity. We live in a world where we would rather spend those bazillion dollars on things that will kill us, rather than embrace us.

I'm sorry. The world is not ready for your dream.

Recommend (1) | Report Abuse posted 10 June 2009, 8:45 pm ETorbit_er wrote:

Your dream is a nightmare. Every nationality, except china would be a minority in your scheme and no country on earth has yet shown it can tolerate minorities. Every country on earth would become a Somalia.

Keep the UN as it is, a magnet for all the corruptible people. It's best if you can get the enemy to congregate in one place.

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posted 10 June 2009, 6:11 pm ETBrianBoru wrote:

"Plausible deniability" like "national security" allows for a carpet policy approach.
It's surprising that the situation is only changing now.


Reply | Recommend (2) | Report Abuse posted 10 June 2009, 6:19 pm ETsrmarti wrote:

Is this a result of the new administration? Is someone hiding a new technology? Maybe it's a cost cutting measure?

Reply | Recommend (1) | Report Abuse posted 10 June 2009, 6:28 pm ETkpstinga wrote:

seems like they're forgetting who's paying the bills

Reply | Recommend (3) | Report Abuse posted 10 June 2009, 6:52 pm ETIxSonicxI wrote:

More than likely it's because those satillites are specifically designed for intelligence gathreing operations, and said satillites might be looking into areas (such as North Korea) which are deemed as classified observances. But keep posting your theories of government conspiracy. They make me laugh.

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posted 10 June 2009, 7:06 pm ETage_234 wrote:

It's not about conspiracies, but transparency. No, it's not to keep us unaware of some doomsday asteroid, that's stupid, but why the change? Why do they need to keep such things under wraps anyway? It's a fair question, especially when it's never been a problem before.

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posted 10 June 2009, 7:37 pm ETmr_mark wrote:

Can you imagine the public outcry if a large space rock hit say the midwestern USA and the public was not informed. Very interesting, I wonder how this also applies to spacecraft if any object reentering the atmosphere could be classified a natural space body then spacecraft of any type could be subject to public blackout. Also I imagine UFO enthusiasts will say this is a cover up. Interesting.... I'm starting to wonder if this has to do with space rocks at all?

Reply | Recommend (1) | Report Abuse posted 10 June 2009, 7:38 pm ETspacebonz wrote:

My guess is that when you give the science community access to this data, over time one can build up a very clear picture of the capabilities of our spy satellites. Oh, they can detect this size explosion with this precision and that size explosion with that level of precision. Pretty soon, these satellites are no longer secret assets, but are well defined in the public sphere. You don't necessarily want the Chinese or Russians to know exactly what you can and cannot see for obvious reasons.

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posted 10 June 2009, 8:01 pm ETulao wrote:

Good point spacebonz. I am sure placed some conditions on what data could be released and someone probably violated the conditions. Maybe next time they will play by the rules.

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posted 10 June 2009, 7:44 pm ETspacebonz wrote:

What is needed by the science community are some satellites of their own specifically designed for this task, but separate from the military ones. They would likley perform better at the task if specifically designed for it as opposed to ancillary data from other spacecraft. Also keep in mind that this data is provided after the fact. There is no way you can provide any warning of an impact event by detecting its explosion in the atmosphere, it is way too late by then. However, if you can categorize the sizes and frequencies of these events, and from which direction the originate, then you can make probabilistic estimates of when/where these things will occur. That then leads to a place to start looking for future impactors.

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[link to www.space.com]
Anonymous Coward
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06/10/2009 09:48 PM
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Re: Military Hush-Up: Incoming Space Rocks Now Classified
space.com is a VERY reliable source.


this news is simultaneously fascinating & terrifying...

what do they know that they aren't telling us, hmm?
malu

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06/10/2009 09:50 PM
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Re: Military Hush-Up: Incoming Space Rocks Now Classified
space.com is a VERY reliable source.


this news is simultaneously fascinating & terrifying...

what do they know that they aren't telling us, hmm?
 Quoting: acadian


doesn't really matter though does it? like, what could anyone do besides kiss their ass goodbye?
"By way of deception, thou shalt do war."

Israel's Mossad

"The truth shall set you free."

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency Motto
Anonymous Coward
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06/10/2009 10:32 PM
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Re: Military Hush-Up: Incoming Space Rocks Now Classified
hiding
CRYSTAL in MATRIX

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06/10/2009 10:42 PM
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Re: Military Hush-Up: Incoming Space Rocks Now Classified
space.com is a VERY reliable source.


this news is simultaneously fascinating & terrifying...

what do they know that they aren't telling us, hmm?


doesn't really matter though does it? like, what could anyone do besides kiss their ass goodbye?
 Quoting: malu


Stash a few trill here and there, and go underground?
"No guts, no glory!"
Anonymous Coward
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06/10/2009 10:46 PM
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Re: Military Hush-Up: Incoming Space Rocks Now Classified
bump

This does not bode well.
Anonymous Coward
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06/10/2009 10:48 PM
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Re: Military Hush-Up: Incoming Space Rocks Now Classified
"Something Is Alleged To Be On The Way"


-------------------------------------------------------------​-------------------

Several weeks ago, when the most recent space shuttle was sent up to repair the Hubble telescope, I mentioned at the time that I thought that there were people around who were hot to get the thing fixed, so that they could get a better view of something or other, that they knew was out there, and that be be coming this way.

Well, last night, Steve Quayle was talking about what he and his friend "Hawk", had been hearing from their contacts on their so called "back side channels", both from within the government and the military.

According to Quayle, there is an object being watched, which is the so called "Planet-X "or "Nibiru", and even what some Christian's is calling the "Wormwood" object.
They say that it's coming out of the southern hemisphere region.
They also say that it's between 15 and 20 miles in diameter.
And the following is the weird part--take it for what it's worth.
They say that this object can stop and start up again on its own.
Which if true, can only mean one thing, that it's being controlled by another entity--somewhere.
There was no speed given; but if it cam stop and start, then the speed can also be slowed or speeded up.
Quayle also said that neither he nor Hawk could get no set trajectory from anybody.
But if it's being controlled, then any trajectory can be altered and changed as well.

Whether this is all a fire drill, who can say?
But if it is true, then which Revelation object is it?
The object that will appear as a burning mountain, that will fall into the sea within the Second Trumpet?
Or the star falling out of Heaven, which will appear as a burning lamp--called Wormwood within the Third Trumpet?

Quayle also mentioned about a fuzzy conversation with an Air Force general that he personally knows, where the general was talking about the two moons of Mars for some reason.
One moon is named Phobos, which mean--fear.
The other is named Deimos, which means--dread.
He trying to say something without saying anything?
[link to www.fivedoves.com]
mfgl

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06/10/2009 10:48 PM
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Re: Military Hush-Up: Incoming Space Rocks Now Classified
Its ok for us to pay for these satalites (and the military) but we cant handle the info they collect...NICE.
Phasesphere

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06/10/2009 10:50 PM

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Re: Military Hush-Up: Incoming Space Rocks Now Classified
Uh Oh
What happened to my beloved GLP????.
Normal Is Subjective

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06/10/2009 10:58 PM
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Re: Military Hush-Up: Incoming Space Rocks Now Classified
I wonder how long this will last then:

The Air Force Space Surveillance Radar is scanning the skies above Texas. When a meteor or satellite passes over the facility--ping!--there is an echo. Click on the button to listen to a live audio feed: [link to spaceweatherradio.com]
I thought I'd beat the inevitibility of death to death just a little bit.
Anonymous Coward
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06/10/2009 11:13 PM
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Re: Military Hush-Up: Incoming Space Rocks Now Classified
bump
Anonymous Coward
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06/11/2009 02:55 AM
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Re: Military Hush-Up: Incoming Space Rocks Now Classified
This is a clear signal that something wicked this way comes.
Idol120
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06/11/2009 03:07 AM
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Re: Military Hush-Up: Incoming Space Rocks Now Classified
Tax payers money pays for this.
Who do they think they are?
So we pay for this but don't get the benefit of the information they accumulate?

Fuck that.
Anonymous Coward
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06/11/2009 03:11 AM
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Re: Military Hush-Up: Incoming Space Rocks Now Classified
HIDING THE INCOMING!!!

Bastards!
Anonymous Coward
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06/11/2009 03:40 AM
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Re: Military Hush-Up: Incoming Space Rocks Now Classified
They stopped reporting fireballs for the same reason the Federal Reserve stopped reporting the M3 money supply. They don’t want us to know what is going on.
Anonymous Coward
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06/11/2009 04:11 PM
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Re: Military Hush-Up: Incoming Space Rocks Now Classified
PIN!
PIN
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06/11/2009 04:13 PM
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Re: Military Hush-Up: Incoming Space Rocks Now Classified
PIN!
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 679226

agreed

PIN!
Anonymous Coward
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06/11/2009 04:15 PM
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Re: Military Hush-Up: Incoming Space Rocks Now Classified
if quayle and HAWK said that we are going to be killed by a remote controlled Asteroid, it must be true! (i wonder how HAWK is walkingthese days)
. PIN THIS!
Anonymous Coward
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06/11/2009 04:16 PM
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Re: Military Hush-Up: Incoming Space Rocks Now Classified
:Uh Oh:
 Quoting: Phasesphere

Looks like the "wizard's sleeve" comment in the thread stating "heard something weird about my new GF" or something like that.
Anonymous Coward
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06/11/2009 04:17 PM
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Re: Military Hush-Up: Incoming Space Rocks Now Classified
ty & pinnit =)
pin it!
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06/11/2009 04:20 PM
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Re: Military Hush-Up: Incoming Space Rocks Now Classified
seems like they're trying to hide a incoming space rock from us. else they wouldn't make it a secret.

PIN it!
Anonymous Coward
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06/11/2009 04:20 PM
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Re: Military Hush-Up: Incoming Space Rocks Now Classified
for decades now, we the people, have benefited and been informed by letting our scientists know what comes our way in terms of space rocks and so on.

now, all of a sudden, the evil gubmint makes it impossible and top secret to even look for space rocks.

logic thinking leads us to the conclusion that something is up and they wanna hide it...most likely a huge asteroid which they KNOW will hit eart and that they can't prevent this from happening. so they simply become blunt and say it's top secret from now on.

this probably REALLY IS IT...and probably very soon. but we will never know for sure until we're all dead since it's top secret now.

i'm dead serious on this
vet ikke

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06/11/2009 04:22 PM
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Re: Military Hush-Up: Incoming Space Rocks Now Classified
pin serious shit
Blehdaladadaladaladalaladerdederdeder
Anonymous Coward
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06/11/2009 04:28 PM
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Re: Military Hush-Up: Incoming Space Rocks Now Classified
:pin: serious shit
 Quoting: vet ikke

+1
dead2
Anonymous Coward
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06/11/2009 04:35 PM
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Re: Military Hush-Up: Incoming Space Rocks Now Classified
:pin: serious shit

+1
dead2
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 684112

+2
dynamiteabombdead3
Anonymous Coward
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06/11/2009 04:36 PM
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Re: Military Hush-Up: Incoming Space Rocks Now Classified
:pin: serious shit

+1
dead2

+2
dynamiteabombdead3
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 700331

pdance
Anonymous Coward
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06/11/2009 04:37 PM
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Re: Military Hush-Up: Incoming Space Rocks Now Classified
pinned! yesss!
Anonymous Coward
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06/11/2009 04:38 PM
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Re: Military Hush-Up: Incoming Space Rocks Now Classified
:pin: serious shit

+1
dead2

+2
dynamiteabombdead3

pdance
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 491073


+4
wink wink wink wink
antwan

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06/11/2009 04:38 PM

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Re: Military Hush-Up: Incoming Space Rocks Now Classified
As we come more and more to the end , all will be hush hush !

the warnings where given along time ago :)
Anonymous Coward
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06/11/2009 04:41 PM
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Re: Military Hush-Up: Incoming Space Rocks Now Classified
dead
thx for pin! this is way more important than some might think. it proves that something is heading our way...or why else would they suddenly change their policy to such secrecy.

something's afoot...that's for sure
Anonymous Coward
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06/11/2009 04:42 PM
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Re: Military Hush-Up: Incoming Space Rocks Now Classified
Will they class people with powerful telescopes as terrorists now?

They are hiding something or stopping sleuths from working it out.

So if a meteor hits alaska they then can blame it on North Korea firing!!!!

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