Military, NASA tracking Santa
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. military officials have declared success for an early Wednesday morning "Santa sleigh tracking test" high in the Canadian Arctic.
"This comprehensive test included our network of satellite and radar systems and intensive analysis at our facilities in North Bay, Ontario, and at Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado Springs," explained Maj. Gen. Eric Findley, director of operations at the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), in a statement.
The release said the test went off without a hitch, and that Rudolph's bright red nose emitted a "phenomenal infrared signature" that was easily picked up by NORAD's missile warning satellites.
The three-member international space station crew also will assist the corpulent gift-giver during his flight --monitoring Santa's speed, the peformance of the reindeer and the cargo of presents for children throughout the world.
"With three people living on the space station, we have a unique vantage point to help Santa on his rounds," said Matt Abbott, flight director for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, in a NASA statement.
"We have Yury Onufrienko, Dan Bursch and Carl Walz on board the station ready to help us out with real-time Santa sightings, and our flight control team is ready for this opportunity." Mission Control in Houston will, for a short time this Christmas Eve, become "Santa Control, Houston."
NORAD said its ground-based radar successfully tracked the sleigh and its nine reindeer during the duration of the seven-minute test.
"Tracking Santa is an honor for the men and women of NORAD," said Findley. "Not only does it help Santa, but it lets us do high-level validation of our sophisticated tracking equipment."
Every Christmas, NORAD tracks Santa from his operations center in Colorado, and the U.S. military says this year is no different.
"Santa's not going to stop. We're not going to stop either," spokesman Doug Martin told CNN.
Martin said that Santa's sleigh will be escorted into U.S. airspace from Canada on Christmas Eve by Canadian CF-18 fighter jets.
"He's an unknown track just like any other," explained Martin. "He doesn't have a transponder that squawks 'friend' or 'foe.'"
Children worldwide will be able to phone NORAD's operations center starting at 7 a.m. on Christmas Eve at (719) 474-2111 or visit the "NORAD Tracks Santa" Web site at www.noradsanta.org to view an online, interactive report on Santa's progress.
Children will be able to see a radar plot showing where Santa is, where he has been, as well as streaming video of actual visits by the jolly old elf from Santa Cams across the globe.
The Web site last year got about 100 million hits, and this year NORAD hopes to set a world's record for the number of inquiries in a 24-hour period.
NORAD Tracks Santa
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