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For Additional Information Contact: For Immediate Release
Frank Sietzen 202-543-1900 January 9, 2002

NSS STATEMENT ON CLOSE APPROACH OF 2001 YB5

WASHINGTON, JANUARY 8 - The National Space Society lauds the Astronomical community in the U.S., the Czech Republic, and the United Kingdom for their efforts in locating and tracking the asteroid 2001 YB5, which made a close approach to the earth January 7th.

The approach of the 300-meter object came within 510,000 miles of earth, less than twice the moon's distance to our home planet. While the impact of an object the size of 2001 YB5 would not result in complete destruction of all life forms on the planet, had it struck the earth it would have caused widespread destruction and loss of life.

This event is yet another reminder that there needs to be a more comprehensive, international effort to search for earth-crossing asteroids and other space objects that could potentially threaten earth's population. This vital area of concern should be an added mission for the Defense Department, NASA, and others concerned with planetary protection and homeland defense.

Earth-crossing asteroids and space objects also threaten the safe operation of global space satellites, and the occupants of the International Space Station.

The threat from collision with space objects is one that is poorly understood and needs dedicated research and resources, as the 2001 YB5 event clearly shows.

The National Space Society believes that the close approach of January 7th is yet another 'wake up call' for planet earth.

It is a warning that NSS believes should be heeded.

-Frank Sietzen, Jr.

Director of Communications and Government Relations

The National Space Society is a grassroots organization whose 37,000 members worldwide are working to create a spacefaring civilization. To join NSS or for more information visit our web site at http://www.nss.org or call 202-543-1900.


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