Nation: Cosmos 954: An Ugly Death

Space age "difficulty"? It could have been a nuclear disaster

No cause for panic, said the U.S. National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski. It had merely been "a space age difficulty ... There is no danger."

The little difficulty that Brzezinski so soothingly soft-pedaled was the fiery return to earth of Cosmos 954—a Soviet spy-in-the-sky satellite carrying a nuclear reactor to power its ocean-scanning radar and radio circuitry. The craft crashed into the atmosphere over a remote Canadian wilderness area last week, apparently emitting strong radiation. American space scientists admitted that if the satellite had...

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