In 1963, Alister McClain published a novel about a spy satellite that fell from orbit and landed in a place where almost nobody could get to it. Almost.
The book and the 1968 film, tell the story of the race by an American atomic-powered attack submarine to get to the ice pack and land a team of Special Ops forces to retrieve the capsule before the weather clears and the Soviets can drop their airborne troops to do the same thing. There are submarines*, spies, confusion, double-crossing, star athletes and Rock Hudson. When everything is said and done, the film canister that everybody is chasing after is destroyed. After all of that effort and blood, nobody had anything.
Which is pretty much a metaphor for the Cold War anyway.
Imagine my surprise to learn – in a completely UNCLASSIFIED manner – that a few years after the novel and the movie, a US spy satellite dropped its film canister out of orbit, only to have its parachute fail and the canister plunge into the deep abyss of the Pacific Ocean**. The race was on to recover it before the Soviets could get wind of the potential intelligence coup and to keep them as in the dark about it as long as possible.
Heading to the scene, an old World War II Salvage Tug dragged a World War II surplus Floating Dry Dock out into the Pacific Ocean**. Inside the dry dock sat one of the most ungainly, misunderstood and surprising pieces of technology ever created. Even as men were walking on the moon, this thing, the Trieste II, was about to dive to depths almost never penetrated before for the sole purpose of recovering a satellite film canister that had landed in the wrong place.
There were a couple of differences from the novel and film. First, it wasn’t in the Arctic. Next, it was not an atomic-powered boat. But the biggest difference of all is that it actually happened.
A real-life Ice Station Zebra…
*The movie contains one of the most nerve-wracking scenes I have ever seen. I can watch it, but it leaves me with heart palpitations and sweating.
**Every “c” in “Pacific Ocean” is pronounced differently. Just thought you’d like to know that. Ever since Kenneth pointed it out to me, I cannot stop thinking about it.
It’s National Cheeseburger Day. Which is convenient since we have to confess our sins at sundown…
The War in Syria is lost. There is nothing short of sending the 1 Marine Division backed up by the 6th Fleet and USAF that would even start to “help” our “Allies” win. So what happens when a Russian IL-20 gets accidentally shot down by Syrian anti-aircraft missiles built and supplied by Russia? Blame Israel!
Governor Jerry Brown has repeated his promise for the PDRK to “launch its own satellite.” Of more interest is that nobody seems to have realized that what he intends to launch is a “spy satellite” capable of “pinpointing” those who are putting out CO2. You realize, of course, that YOU put out CO2, right?
The US Coast Guard is – I think rightfully – upset over the theft of $700 Million from its acquisition budget which DHS reallocated to the “Border Wall.” we could spend an hour on why the wall is stupid, but today we are looking at what the USCG is losing in the deal – at least four modern Icebreaking Ships that it desperately needs. Or… does it?