Thursday, February 21, 2008

Spy Satellite Hit by US Missile

Last night the U.S. Navy destroyed a non-functioning, and potentially deadly, National Reconnaissance Office satellite. The objective was to rupture the satellite's fuel tank filled with 1,000 pounds of the hazardous fuel hydrazine. Confirmation of destruction of the fuel tank is expected within 48 hours. Left to reenter Earth's atmosphere on its own, the 5,000 pound satellite could have scattered toxic debris and American secrets over several hundred miles. The remaining debris should burn up on reentry.

The USS Lake Erie (CG-70) fired a modified tactical Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) at the satellite. The missile traveled at more than 17,000 mph and 153 miles (133 nautical miles) above the Pacific Ocean to reach its target. For more information, read "Navy Missile Hits Decaying Satellite Over Pacific Ocean" from the Department of Defense (DOD) and "Navy Succeeds In Intercepting Non-Functioning Satellite" from the United States Navy. You might also want to read the reaction of Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Check out the missile intercept video from the DOD.

For additional information read "Missile Hits Dying US Spy Satellite" from the Washington Post, "Pentagon: Smashed Satellite Debris Poses No Danger" from FOX News, and "US 'confident' over satellite hit" from BBC News.

Want more information? Check out the library's guides on intelligence and space.

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