As I write this, Santa and his team of eight tiny reindeer (plus Rudolph, of course), are mere moments away from Sydney, Australia . He's making his way east toward, among other places, Germany, France, Spain, the UK, and Greenland. In less than 16 hours, it will be Christmas Day on the Atlantic coast of North America. In order to assure Santa's safe journey, NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense) headquartered at Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado Springs, Colorado, has been real-time tracking his journey every year since 1955 using a combination of radar, jet aircraft, satellites (since the early 1960s) and SantaCams (since the 1990s). The publically available display begins at 12:00 am on December 25th on the International Date Line, and runs the entire day. Hopefully, the second-hand smoke emanating from Colorado's newly legalized potheads doesn't get so thick that it penetrates the ventilation system on 'The Mountain' and affect operations.
Here is a 'live feed' of Santa's reindeer on the ReindeerCam, but all of the famous ones are doing sleigh pulling duty at the moment, so don't expect to see a lot of activity today.
I'm not sure what's going on with the SantaCams that turn up on a Google search, but most seem to be dead. Maybe North Korea's Kim Jong-un's toadies have targeted them.
Designer & Builder:
Probable First Flight:
Weight at takeoff:
Passenger weight at takeoff:
Weight of gifts at takeoff:
Weight at landing:
Passenger weight at landing:
K. Kringle & Elves, Inc.
Dec. 24, 343 A.D.
75 cc (candy canes) / 150 lp (lollipops)
40 cc / 80 lp
55 cc / 110 lp
75,000 gd (gumdrops)
Santa Claus 260 pounds
80,000 gd (ice & snow accumulation)
Nine (9) rp (reindeer power)
Antlers (purely defensive)
Hay, oats and carrots (for reindeer)
One "T" (Twinkle of an eye)
Faster than starlight
Why we track Santa
For more than 50 years, NORAD and its predecessor, the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) have tracked Santa’s flight.
In Memory of Retired Colonel Harry Shoup, NORAD's First Santa Tracker September 29, 1917 - March 14, 2009
The tradition began in 1955 after a Colorado Springs-based Sears Roebuck & Co. advertisement misprinted the telephone number for children to call Santa. Instead of reaching Santa, the phone number put kids through to the CONAD Commander-in-Chief's operations "hotline." The Director of Operations at the time, Colonel Harry Shoup, had his staff check the radar for indications of Santa making his way south from the North Pole. Children who called were given updates on his location, and a tradition was born.
In 1958, the governments of Canada and the United States created a bi-national air defense command for North America called the North American Aerospace Defense Command, also known as NORAD, which then took on the tradition of tracking Santa.
Since that time, NORAD men, women, family and friends have selflessly volunteered their time to personally respond to phone calls and emails from children all around the world. In addition, we now track Santa using the internet. Millions of people who want to know Santa's whereabouts now visit the NORAD Tracks Santa® website.
Finally, media from all over the world rely on NORAD as a trusted source to provide updates on Santa's journey.
How we track Santa
It all starts with the NORAD radar system called the North Warning System. This powerful radar system has 47 installations strung across Canada's North and Alaska. NORAD makes a point of checking the radar closely for indications of Santa Claus leaving the North Pole every holiday season. The moment our radar tells us that Santa has lifted off, we begin to use the same satellites that we use in providing air warning of possible missile launches aimed at North America.
These satellites are located in a geo-synchronous orbit (that's a cool phrase meaning that the satellite is always fixed over the same spot on the Earth) at 22,300 miles above the Earth. The satellites have infrared sensors, meaning they can see heat. When a rocket or missile is launched, a tremendous amount of heat is produced - enough for the satellites to see them. Rudolph's nose gives off an infrared signature similar to a missile launch. The satellites detect Rudolph's bright red nose with no problem.
The third system we use is the SantaCam. We began using it in 1998 - the year we put our Santa Tracking program on the Internet. NORAD SantaCams are ultra-cool, high-tech, high-speed digital cameras that are pre-positioned at many places around the world. NORAD only uses these cameras once a year – on 24 December. We turn the cameras on about one hour before Santa enters a country then switch them off after we capture images of him and the Reindeer. We immediately download the images onto our web site for people around the world to see. SantaCams produce both video and still images.
The last system we use is the NORAD jet fighter. Canadian NORAD fighter pilots, flying the CF-18, take off out of Newfoundland and welcome Santa to North America. Then at numerous locations in Canada other CF-18 fighter pilots escort Santa. While in the United States, American NORAD fighter pilots in either the F-15s, F16s or F-22s get the thrill of flying with Santa and the famous Reindeer - Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen and Rudolph. Even though Santa flies faster than any jet fighter (Santa actually slows down for us to escort him), all of these systems together provide NORAD with a very good continuous picture of his whereabouts.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Santa is at the North Pole, where he lives with Mrs. Claus and the elves who make toys and take care of the reindeer year round! Each year on December 24th, Santa and his reindeer launch from the North Pole very early in the morning for their famous trip around the world. The minute they launch, NORAD starts to track him! Come back to this website on December 24th and you can track Santa along with NORAD!
Yes! The NORAD Tracks Santa® Operations Center is fully operational beginning at 3:00a.m. MST on December 24th. You can call 1 877 HI-NORAD (1 877 446-6723) to talk directly to a NORAD staff member who will be able to tell you Santa’s exact location. Operators are available until 3:00a.m. on Dec. 25th to answer your calls!
Yes! On December 24th, you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org A NORAD staff member will give you Santa’s last known location in a return email. You can also track Santa on your mobile phone, through the official Windows 8 app, and you can even chat live with a NORAD operator to find out Santa’s location!
Santa has been flying for centuries without hitting anything. He must be a great pilot!
NORAD is a bi-national U.S./Canadian military organization responsible for aerospace warning, aerospace control, and maritime warning in the defense of North America. NORAD provides warning of impending missile and air attacks, safeguards the air sovereignty of North America, and maintains airborne forces for defense against attack. NORAD performs this important mission 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. www.norad.mil or follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/noradnorthcom.
More than 1,250 Canadian and American uniformed personnel and DOD civilians volunteer their time on December 24th to answer the thousands of phone calls and emails that flood in from around the world. In addition to the support provided by our corporate contributors to make this program possible, NORAD has two lead project officers who manage the program.
The NORAD Tracks Santa® program is made possible by volunteers and through the generous support of corporate licensees who bear virtually all of the costs.
Posted December 24, 2014