Ric Carter has a bargain for any and all buyers: space junk.
Not that the gun builder from Somers, Mont. has any debris from outer space. But come Friday afternoon when NASA expects debris from a 6.5 ton satellite to finally hit the ground, Carter is ready for a potential quick sale of the debris.
I have been hearing that a satellite is going to fall back to earth, and odds of it hitting someone is around 3200-1, he wrote on an eBay post selling what he called a space junk pre-sale.
The way my luck runs, I am betting the damned thing falls on my cabin, truck, or me. So, I am running a pre-sale on the space junk, to repair my cabin, truck, or me, assuming I may survive the impact, he wrote.
NASA officials and research teams spent the past few weeks playing a guessing game on where and when debris from the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite will land.
The latest estimates Friday morning delayed the satellite's time of re-entry to Friday afternoon or Saturday morning and increased the possibility that Americans like Carter may encounter debris. On Thursday, NASA officials said that there was no chance that the debris would land in North America.
The satellite's orientation or configuration apparently has changed, and that is now slowing its descent, NASA officials said in a statement. There is a low probability any debris that survives re-entry will land in the United States, but the possibility cannot be discounted because of this changing rate of descent.
A British group of amateur satellite observers predicted that re-entry would be between 6 p.m. EST Friday and 10 a.m. Saturday, the BBC reported.
Statistically speaking, the most likely epitaph for the satellite is UARS R.I.P. (Remains In Pacific), Stuart Eves, a group member of the Kettering Group, told BBC News. But there is still a chance that observers in the UK with clear skies could be treated to a 'fireball' display moving generally from north-west to south-east across the sky.
Regardless of where the satellite lands, NASA officials urged people not to touch any space debris.
NASA does not send out search teams to find this type of space debris, Steve Cole, NASA spokesman, wrote in an email to the IB Times. In most cases, debris from re-entering objects is not found. The majority of surviving debris falls into the world's oceans. If a piece of UARS debris is identified outside the U.S., the U.S. Department of State will be responsible for working with the country on which the debris landed and for the return of the debris, if warranted. UARS debris remains the property of the United States.
NASA launched the satellite in 1991 to measure ozone in the environment. By 2005, the space organization decommissioned the satellite and left it to float in space uncontrolled.
Most of the 6.5 ton satellite is expected to burn up as it enters the atmosphere, but NASA officials predicted 26 potentially hazardous pieces weighing a total of 1,172 pounds (532 kg) would spread across 500 miles on Earth.
The risk of getting hit by space debris was extremely small, NASA officials said, and since the 1950s, no reports had confirmed personal or property injury due to space debris reentering the Earth's atmosphere.
However, Lottie Williams, a resident of Tulsa, Okla. is reportedly the only person in the world who has been hit by space debris. Williams reported having a 6-inch piece of a Delta rocket that struck her shoulder while walking in a park in 1997, according to several news reports. She did not suffer injury and told FoxNews.com, The weight was comparable to an empty soda can. It looked like a piece of fabric except when you tap it, it sounded metallic.
Researchers at the Center for Orbital and Reentry Debris Studies based in Los Angeles analyzed the piece of blackened material and concluded it was part of a Delta II rocket launched in 1996, FoxNews.com reported.
Space junk has become a growing concern after debris started reentering the Earth's atmosphere in 1957.
In September, the National Research Council sounded a warning that NASA's policies with space junk removal had not kept pace with the accumulation of the unearthly debris.
The current space environment is growing increasingly hazardous to spacecraft and astronauts, said Donald Kessler, chair of the committee that wrote the report and retired head of NASA's Orbital Debris Program Office. NASA needs to determine the best path forward for tackling the multifaceted problems caused by meteoroids and orbital debris that put human and robotic space operations at risk.
Space debris reached its peak in 1989 when over 1,000 satellites, rocket bodies and pieces of debris re-entered the Earth's atmosphere, according to data from the Center for Orbital and Reentry Debris Studies. That number decreased to fewer than 200 objects in 2007, the last year data was available.
For Carter, the debris pre-sale is just for fun, regardless of what the rogue satellite may bring.
I just enjoy a good joke, and would accept a bid from anyone, fully expecting to send them a bill of sale for said junk, Carter said.
The pre-sale as of noon EST Friday received five bids and reached $2.75 for the non-refundable potential item.
Carter said he isn't a collector of space junk, but that, My full interest in space is looking at the stars, Northern Lights, whether or not it is raining, and launching projectiles into it.