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US Cruiser Strikes Dead Spy Satellite

20 Feb , 2008

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Officials have confirmed that the US spy satellite, USA 193, has been hit by an anti-satellite missile fired from USS Lake Erie positioned west of the Hawaiian Islands in the mid-Pacific at 10.30pm (US Eastern Time) Wednesday night. Fears of the propellant hydrazine being released into the atmosphere prompted the military response. Although plans for the missile strike were hampered by bad weather, the launch appears to have gone ahead regardless.

The 10.30pm time window was chosen by the US so that should the first attempt fail, a second and then a third attempt could be carried out. The window was only 10 seconds long, and BBC correspondent Jonathan Beale, based in Washington, says this operation was hugely ambitious and likened it to “trying to fire a missile through the eye of a needle.”
The anatomy of a satellite shoot down (credit: BBC)
It is hoped that the modified Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) successfully destroyed the large orbiting mass, containing 450kg (1,000lbs) of the poisonous propellant hydrazine. The SM-3 does not carry a warhead; it depends on its high velocity and weight to destroy the target. Travelling at a velocity of over 17,000 mph, on impact the missile and satellite should break up, creating debris and hopefully destroying the full fuel tank. Most of the debris is expected to burn up in the Earths atmosphere over the next 15 hours (or two Earth orbits), and all of it is expected to have re-entered over the next 40 days, eliminating the risk of the poisonous fuel falling to Earth. However, at least 24 hours will be needed to assess how successful the strike has been.
The US spy satellite, that malfunctioned soon after launch, has been destroyed
In an official statement, the Department of Defence has said, “A network of land-, air-, sea- and space-based sensors confirms that the U.S. military intercepted a non-functioning National Reconnaissance Office satellite which was in its final orbits before entering the Earth’s atmosphere […] At approximately 10:26 p.m. EST today, a U.S. Navy AEGIS warship, the USS Lake Erie, fired a single modified tactical Standard Missile-3, hitting the satellite approximately 247 kilometers (133 nautical miles) over the Pacific Ocean as it traveled in space at more than 17,000 mph.

The missile strike has prompted anger from both Russia and China, as the nations see it as a provocative manoeuvre by the US, but US officials insist that the missile strike was not intended to showcase their anti-satellite technology and was not used to destroy any top-secret orbital weapon.

Sources: CNN, BBC


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Danzio
Guest
Danzio
February 21, 2008 2:12 AM

It is precisely the opposite of what the government is saying. China did it and Russia could too. Are you kidding!? We better be able to or . . .
Or we are a bunch of weenies!!
Yeah Baby!

So just two questions? . . .
How are they tracking all the debris?
Is this the next level of a new quieter cold war?

Glen
Guest
Glen
February 21, 2008 3:52 AM

Maybe now the people saying BMD can’t work will start to think that the system will work!
Remember the decision to retarget the missile was made only a week ago!

Keith A
Guest
Keith A
February 21, 2008 6:11 AM

And the cowards thump their chests…

And, of course, our national fighter “shield” can stop any plane on the continent in 15 minutes…

At least the knuckledraggers are happy…

Dark Gnat
Guest
Dark Gnat
February 21, 2008 7:28 AM

The Chinese goverment are being hypocrits. It’s OK for them to shoot down a satellite 500 miles up. leaving debris in orbit for years, but they get all pissy about the US’s actions.

cassandra
Guest
cassandra
February 21, 2008 8:48 AM

We spent a trillion dollars for this? We were able to “hit” high-speed spacecraft (docking) back in the 1960’s. Si, se puede!

zap
Guest
zap
February 21, 2008 8:52 AM

Dark Gnat,

And OUR government was all pissy about the Chinese doing that.

Rusty Shackleford
Guest
Rusty Shackleford
February 21, 2008 10:15 AM

What they are not telling us is that this is all part of an elaborate plan to combat global warming. Send a bunch of crap up into orbit and blow it up. The debris will stockpile up there until there is enough to reflect a significant percentage of sunlight…….
Makes sense to me.

zap
Guest
zap
February 21, 2008 11:40 AM

Dark Gnat,
Williamson added, “I fear that using a ballistic missile in this manner after the United States roundly chastised the Chinese government for its anti-satellite (ASAT) test just over a year ago sends completely the wrong message to the world community.”

clocker
Guest
clocker
February 21, 2008 11:43 AM

Rusty Shackleford,

Great idea!

Dwight
Guest
Dwight
February 21, 2008 12:31 PM

Ain’t nothing new about this. I worked on classified defense programs back in the early 80’s that were capable of downing satellites with literally a “flying brick”; i.e., direct intercept–no explosive warhead needed!

Joseph
Guest
Joseph
February 21, 2008 1:08 PM

the new cold war will not be quiet once it really gets in motion, which will probably be very soon. The US cried about it when others did it so the US is being hypocritical as are the other nations. All of these weapons tests and the space agency is losing support for exploration. I am pleased that there is a focus……….

Tman
Guest
Tman
February 21, 2008 9:00 PM

First, it’s just plain cool we can intersect a satellite so precisely that explosives aren’t required.

Second, it was our toy and it was broken, so we can shoot it down (or blow it into tiny bits) if we want to.

Third, I’m glad we have acquired this level of technology. I’ll change my tune if we use it for unprovoked aggression. However, as means to protect us from overhead threats: RIGHT ON!

David Madison, Sr.
Guest
David Madison, Sr.
February 22, 2008 4:53 AM

Equating this event with the earlier Chinese missile strike on a satellite completely misses the motive issue. There was no reason for the Chinese strike other than to prove they were bad boys nobody should mess with. The debris cloud from that hit is now a significant problem for space travel. The motive for the US hit, in contrast, was to prevent injury or death here on Earth.

Johnny Blues
Guest
Johnny Blues
February 22, 2008 5:29 AM

The difference between the Chinese intercept and the USA intercept is simple. The Chinese did it secretly, without regard to the debris still orbiting earth. The USA announced its intentions and did all possible to minimize any orbital debris hazard. To equate these two events is absurd.

Snowflake
Guest
Snowflake
February 22, 2008 12:28 AM

The Russian protest comes apparently from the politicians only. The head of the Russian Space Agency (Roskosmos), stated a couple of days ago that shooting down the satellite was only sensible and proper.

marcellus
Guest
marcellus
February 22, 2008 8:00 AM

It was a spectacular success! I’d rather have a missile defense shield than no defense shield. This is money well spent and I completely agree with David Madison’s comments.

The Chinese should go clean up their mess. Go Navy!

Afthought
Guest
February 22, 2008 1:00 AM

I am so proud. And I do so hope our enemies will take heed and never, ever, dare to attack the US in anything but good weather.

Skip Ryan
Guest
Skip Ryan
February 22, 2008 11:05 AM

This was a resounding success for the US! We should all be very proud for our country, and I say that with all sincerity.

Besides, with the nuclear proliferation being all the rage these days, I submit that it was good for Pyongyang and Teheran to observe that their few missiles and atomic ambitions suddenly aren’t as spooky as they were a week ago.

whoknowsidont
Guest
whoknowsidont
February 22, 2008 8:23 PM
I’m certainly not a fan of the Chinese government and how they’re harming our economy. But you should be able to see the USA from the rest of the world: The US is the only country (yet) to use nuclear bombs on another country. The US is the first to begin an insane “Star Wars” Defense system (not insane because it couldn’t intercept nuclear missiles but because it could be easily decoyed–and it cost too much). And the US has proved that we can attack countries for false reasons. What is so great about hitting a satellite moving in the same general direction as the missile? We’ve been doing that for years with our spacecraft dockings. We do… Read more »
Skip Ryan
Guest
Skip Ryan
February 23, 2008 4:12 PM
“…The US is the only country(yet) to use nuclear bombs on another country.” Sheesh. Might there have been a reason for that? If memory serves, we (as well as the British Commonwealth, and the Dutch) were locked in a bit of a tiff with the Japanese Empire, and the Japanese had shown a rather alarming propensity to die wholesale, i.e., to the last man, rather than surrender. Practically every military in the world talks about “death before dishonor” and fighting to the last man and last bullet (France excepted), but Imperial Japan not only practiced it, they expanded “last man/last bullet” to “last man, woman and child, and last bullet, rock and pointed stick.” This is not hyperbole.… Read more »
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