Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 29 May 2016

Secret files: Russia nearly dropped an atomic-powered spy satellite on Northern Ireland

Previously classified state papers from 1988 have been published under the 30/20 year rule

By Adrian Rutherford

Published 30/12/2015

A man holds a Soviet era flag (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
A man holds a Soviet era flag (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Emergency plans were drawn up amid fears a nuclear-powered Russian spy satellite could crash-land in Northern Ireland.

Alarm was sparked when the Soviet Union admitted in April 1988 that radio contact with Cosmos 1900 had been lost.

The satellite, carrying a small nuclear reactor, was launched in December 1987.

Soviet officials warned that they had lost control over it.

Western experts said the satellite, which tracked Western ships at sea, might break apart as it fell back to Earth.

It was feared radioactive debris from its 100-pound nuclear reactor could fall over populated areas.

A memo from the Northern Ireland Office reported that officials had been advised of arrangements to deal with the emergency situation which would arise if Cosmos 1900 fell on Northern Ireland.

However, the alarm subsided when the satellite burnt up over the Congo on re-entry on October 1, 1988.

From the web

Your Comments

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Read More

From Belfast Telegraph