US Navy successful in shooting down rogue satellite

Feb 22, 2008
Author: P&S

A missile from a US Navy cruiser has successfully intercepted a ‘non-functioning national reconnaissance satellite’ that was threatening to re-enter the earth’s atmosphere without having sufficiently broken or burned up.

At 22h26 EST on Wednesday the US Navy Aegis class cruiser USS LAKE ERIE (CG-70) fired a single modified tactical Standard Missile-3 (SM-3), striking the satellite approximately 133 n.miles over the Pacific Ocean northwest of Hawaii. The satellite was travelling at a speed in excess of 17,000 mph.

According to the US Department of Defense the objective was to rupture the satellite’s fuel tank to release and dissipate approximately 1,000 pounds of hydrazine fuel before it entered the earth’s atmosphere. At the time of this report confirmation that the fuel tank had been successfully fragmented was being awaited although a fireball and vapour trail had been detected after the strike.

It was expected that because of the satellite’s low altitude debris would enter the atmosphere almost immediately. Remaining debris would re-enter the atmosphere within the next 40 days and burn up.

The shooting down has drawn strong criticism from China and Russia with suggestions that the US had other military motives.



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