NORAD Santa tracker up and running
By Howard Pankratz
The Denver Post
Updated: 12/03/2008 03:07:23 PM MST
On Dec. 24, the Colorado Springs-based North American Aerospace Defense Command will track Santa and his nine reindeer for the 50th consecutive year.
NORAD already is gearing up for the golden anniversary by activating its NORAD Tracks Santa website at Index Page
, which last year drew 10.6 million unique visitors from 212 countries.
The website was activated two days ago.
Last weekend, NORAD, Santa and the reindeer conducted a test in which Santa and his team flew from the North Pole to Pueblo, according to NORAD officials.
"The test flight included Santa's journey into Pueblo and confirmed NORAD's ability to track the jolly old elf and his team of reindeer using a variety
Visit the NORAD site tracking Santa's every move.
of land and space assets," Maj. Stacia Reddish, manager of NORAD Tracks Santa program, said in a statement.
"The test was a phenomenal success," said Reddish.
According to NORAD, the reason that Santa flew to Pueblo was the Pueblo Holiday Lighting Extravaganza.
Reddish said that space-surveillance personnel of the 13th and 213th Space Warning Squadrons using the "PAVE PAWS" radar system at Clear Air Force Station, Alaska, confirmed that Santa took off from the North Pole at 5 p.m. Nov. 28.
Radar indicated Santa "zipped over Labrador City, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada; North Bay, Ontario, Canada; and Waterloo, Iowa, and then proceeded with Christmas Eve velocity" to Pueblo, said Reddish.
There he and the reindeer were met by hundreds of children.
During the flight, said Reddish, NORAD used satellite systems to track the "infrared signature" of Rudolph's bright nose.
NORAD said that the program has grown to become the largest Santa-tracking operation in the world.
Reddish said that one method of tracking was not used over the weekend — SantaCams.
But SantaCams will be used by NORAD on Christmas Eve, said Reddish.
The NORAD Santa website is featured in seven languages.