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Global Challenge fleet on look out for space junk

MEDIA ADVISORY
23 December 2004

Global Challenge fleet on look out for space junk

They’ve battled the gales and high seas of the Southern Ocean, but the latest challenge facing the Global Challenge fleet racing to Wellington is truly out of this world – a spaceship crashing near the fleet’s position.

If icebergs, whales, being and being becalmed wasn’t enough, the fleet of the round-the-world race, currently racing from Buenos Aires to Wellington on leg two of the race, has been alerted to space debris from the International Space Station being intentionally brought down in the Southern Ocean. The NASA website said the flight controllers will command Progress 15, a module filled with unneeded Station items, to re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will harmlessly disintegrate.

The yachts were alerted by the Maritime Safety Authority radio centre, causing a mixture of amusement and concern among the fleet, and something else to look out for in the vast emptiness of the Southern Ocean – as the daily logs from the yachts on the race website www.globalchallenge2004.com reveal – Team VAIO for one:

“Area temporarily dangerous to navigation from falling spacecraft’? Check date – no December, not April 1st. Check religious holidays – no, we have not identified any stars rising in the east.”

“Since this message came through, our concerned skipper Amedeo has been on deck 24-hours a day, patrolling the good ship VAIO, watching the skies and trying to keep us safe from interplanetary craft.”

“Emergency safety helmets have been issued, UFO stories are the talk of the rail, and we have added a column for ‘check bilges for aliens’ to the hourly log. No little green men as yet, no Russian cosmonauts either, but mysteriously Amedeo’s Musto footwear has been replaced by a pair of moon boots. We suspect he may have aspirations beyond simply around the world…” Team VAIO’s log says.

Team SAIC La Jolla was also well prepared, according to their daily log, “having already drawn straws for the two crash helmets on board and a 24-hour space station lookout.”

Maritime Safety Authority spokesperson Heidi Brook said the fleet was in no danger, as the nearest they got was 500 miles southwest of the area at 8.45am this morning. The warning ceased this afternoon. There was nothing out of the ordinary in such danger zones being designated.

The leading yachts are expected to reach Wellington in the early days of the New Year, kicking off a month of events in the capital.

ENDS

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